CHAPTER 713

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 44, TITLE 21, DELAWARE CODE, RELATING TO ABANDONED VEHICLES.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:

Section 1. Chapter 44, Title 21, Delaware Code, is amended by striking Section 4401 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Section 4401 as follows:

§ 4401. Purpose; abandoned vehicles on private property or public highways; definition

(a) The purpose of this Chapter is to eliminate abandoned vehicles which tend to impede traffic in the streets or interfere with the enjoyment of and reduce the value of private property; invite plundering; create fire hazards and other safety and health hazards to children as well as to adults; interfere with the comfort and well-being of the public; and create, extend, and aggravate urban blight.

(b) Any vehicle that is either (1) inoperable, dismantled, wrecked, or from which major components have been removed and is in such a state of disrepair as to be incapable of being operated in the manner for which it is designed and is situated on private property appearing to have been abandoned or (2) which is inoperable, dismantled, wrecked or from which the major components have been removed and which shall have been placed upon any State or public highway or property or the property or roads of any political subdivision or the State or public highways within a municipality for a period in excess of 24 hours without being removed, shall be considered to be abandoned for the purpose of this Chapter, except:

(1) That vehicles and equipment used or to be used in the construction, operation or maintenance of public utility facilities and which are left in a manner which does not interfere with the normal movement of traffic shall not be considered abandoned vehicles for the purposes of this Chapter.

(2) Those vehicles whose owners have properly parked and locked them and have notified the State Police, County Police, or municipal police, as the case may be, as designated in Section 4402 of this Title, that the owner desires to leave the vehicle so parked and secured for a period not to exceed 30 days, except that if during such period the vehicle is no longer secured, or, in the opinion of the State Police, County Police or municipal police has become a danger to the public, then the vehicle shall be subject to the provisions of this Chapter.

(c) As used in this Chapter, the term "State Highway" or "public highway" shall include any portion of the highway located within the right-of-way lines or in the case of limited access highway, the denial of access lines, including shoulders and medium strip.

Section 2. Amend Section 4402, Chapter 44, Title 21, Delaware Code, by inserting in the first sentence of subsection (a) thereof after the word "highways" and before the word "within" the following words: "or property".

Section 3. Amend Section 4402, Chapter 44, Title 21, Delaware Code, by striking subsection (b) in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subsection (b) to read as follows:

(b) Upon the discovery of a vehicle on any State or public highway or property or the property or roads of any political subdivision or State or public highways within a municipality concerning which there is reasonable grounds to believe it to be an abandoned vehicle, the State Police, County Police, or municipal police, as the case may be, shall post a notice, at some conspicuous place on said vehicle, which shall direct that such vehicle be removed by a stated time and date (such time and date to be not less than 24 hours following the posting of such notice). In the event the vehicle is not removed within 24 hours, the abandoned vehicle shall be removed to a storage area maintained by the State Highway Department, or its successor.

Section 4. Amend Section 4402 (c), Chapter 44, Title 21, Delaware Code, by striking the words "appropriate police authority" and substituting in lieu thereof the words "State Police, County Police or municipal police, as the case may be".

Section 5. Amend Section 4402, Chapter 44, Title 21, Delaware Code, by striking subsection (d) in its entirety and inserting new sections (d), (e), and (f) as follows:

(d) In the event of an abandoned vehicle on private property with the consent of the owner or occupant thereof or in the event of an abandoned vehicle which is the property of the owner or occupant of the private property where such a vehicle is located, the State Highway Department or its successor, as the case may be, shall notify the owner of the abandoned vehicle by a written notice to be mailed at the owner's last-known address, which notice shall direct that such a vehicle must be removed within a stated period of time being not less than 30 days from the date of this mailing. In the event the vehicle is not removed within the 30 days, then, after the expiration of said 30 days, a sticker or tag shall be conspicuously affixed thereto showing the time and date of its affixing, advising the owner that if the vehicle is not removed within 24 hours from the affixing of the sticker, the vehicle shall be removed to a storage area maintained by the State Highway Department or its successor. The provisions of this subsection shall not be applicable to automobile graveyards as defined in Section 1202 (b) (2), Title 17, Delaware Code, and shall not be applicable to any vehicles on private property which are not visible from the street or road and are not otherwise a nuisance or create a health or fire hazard.

(e) The notice required by subsection (b) and (d) shall state that if such vehicle is not so removed, it will be removed and stored at a storage area maintained by the State Highway Department at the owner's expense and thereafter will be subject to disposal in accordance with law. Such notice shall also set forth verbatim Section 4410 of this Title. If the vehicle shall not have been removed by the time and date specified in said notice, the police officer shall take such vehicle into custody and shall cause it to be removed and stored in the storage area maintained by the Department for safe keeping. He shall promptly notify the Motor Vehicle Commissioner, upon a form to be supplied by him for that purpose, of the action which has been taken with respect to such vehicle.

(f) The provisions of this Chapter shall not apply to any removal of a vehicle unless the removal is directed by the appropriate police authority, or the State Highway Department or its successor.

Section 6. Amend Section 4404, Chapter 44, Title 21, Delaware Code, by striking the first sentence of (a) thereof and substituting in lieu thereof the following new sentences to read as follows:

The Department shall cause to be published in the local newspaper the serial numbers of abandoned vehicles held by the Department in storage and in the case of a vehicle abandoned on public property the owner thereof shall have 30 days within which to claim the vehicle and pay all costs for its removal, storage and advertising and the owner of vehicles abandoned on private property shall have 15 days within which to claim the vehicle and pay all costs for its removal, storage and advertising. If the costs are not paid within the time limits specified herein, then the vehicle may be, after the expiration of the respective time limits, sold at public sale by the authority having possession of the vehicle.

Section 7. Amend Section 4410, Chapter 44, Title 21, Delaware Code, by renumbering said Section 4410 as Section 4414.

Section 8. Amend Chapter 44, Title 21, Delaware Code, by adding a new Section 4410 to read as follows:

§ 4410. Wreckers; removal; licenses; records; contract

(a) Wreckers, licensed by the State Highway Department or its successor and upon the procurement from the Department of the license with the appropriate decal affixed thereto, shall be the responsible party for implementing the removal provisions of this Act. The owner of the wrecker shall be responsible for removing only those vehicles as are specifically designated by complete description and serial number. The owner shall keep adequate records and furnish the Department with a monthly report.

(b) The Department and wrecker owner shall enter into a contract providing for the removal of vehicles, but the Department shall make the determination of the number of cars to be removed by the wrecker within an eight-hour work day, with no removal permitted on Sunday.

Section 9. Amend Chapter 44, Title 21, Delaware Code, by adding a new Section 4411 to read as follows:

§ 4411. Storage area for abandoned vehicles

The State Highway Department, or its successor, shall furnish the areas designated for storage, which areas shall be those used for sanitary landfills, each area capable of storing up to 500 abandoned vehicles, to be stored not more than two (2) vehicles high.

Section 10. Amend Chapter 44, Title 21, Delaware Code, by adding a new Section 4412 to read as follows:

§ 4412. Vehicles left in possession of garage and/or service station; limitations

Any vehicle left in the possession of a garage or service station which is in operation as a going business shall not be considered, for purposes of this Act, an abandoned vehicle, even though the vehicle left in possession of the garage or service station is inoperable or partially or fully dismantled. No garage or service station owner shall maintain more than five (5) such vehicles within a six (6) month period unless he complies with Title 17, Chapter 12, Section 1206, Delaware Code, relating to screening of junkyards.

Section 11. Amend Chapter 44, Title 21, Delaware Code, by adding a new Section 4413 to read as follows:

§ 4413. Antique cars or parts thereof; exception

Anyone maintaining an inventory of antique cars, or parts thereof, shall not be subject to the provisions of this Act, provided the antique cars or parts thereof are housed in a building consisting of four sides and a roof and are not visible from the highway or road from any location.

Approved July 15, 1970.