TITLE 21

Motor Vehicles

Miscellaneous

CHAPTER 69. REMOVAL OF MOTOR VEHICLES FROM PUBLIC HIGHWAYS BY POLICE


(a) Any police officer of this State, or a county or municipality therein, while in the performance of duty, may remove, store or cause to be removed or stored from any public highway, highway right-of-way, street or alley, at the owner's or operator's expense, any motor vehicle, trailer or part thereof which:

(1) Is unregistered or has an expired registration; or

(2) Is parked or left standing in such manner as to create a hazard by interfering with the normal movement of traffic:

a. By preventing the exit from or entrance to any public highway, private road or driveway;

b. By interfering with emergency firefighting equipment;

c. By being involved in a collision and rendered incapable of being moved under its own power, when the owner or operator has been arrested and detained; or

d. When the owner or operator is unable, unwilling or not available to do so immediately.

Anyone so removing any motor vehicle, trailer or part thereof shall have a possessory lien against said motor vehicle, trailer or part thereof for the costs of removing, towing, preserving and storing said motor vehicle, trailer or part thereof and shall have a right to sell said motor vehicle, trailer or part thereof after complying with the notice and sale provisions as outlined in Chapter 39 of Title 25, with the exception that the proceeds of the sale shall be applied first to the costs of the sale, then to the costs of removing, towing, preserving and storing and then to the payment of any liens to which said motor vehicle, trailer or part thereof may be subject in order of their priority, then to the State Treasurer who shall create a special fund thereof and who shall pay to the owner the moneys left if a claim is made within 1 year of the removal, or deposit the moneys in the General Fund if no claim is made within 1 year of the removal.

There shall be no liability incurred by any police officer of this State or a county or municipality therein, or agents directed by them, whether or not they are also police officers, while in the performance of duty, for damages incurred to immobilized motor vehicle or vehicles moved under this subsection, or to the vehicle's contents or surrounding area caused by the emergency measures employed by the officer or employee to move the vehicle or vehicles for the purpose of clearing the lane or lanes to remove any threat to public safety, unless the circumstances meet the conditions for liability established in § 4001(2) or (3) or § 4011(c) of Title 10.

(b) In effecting the removal and subsequent storage of such vehicles, any police officer of this State, or a county or municipality therein, may select and engage the services, vehicles, equipment or facilities of another person, hereinafter called the "tower", who shall be compensated at the expense of the owner or operator. Such selection shall be made pursuant to the regulations promulgated under subsection (c) of this section.

(c) The Department of Safety and Homeland Security shall promulgate regulations governing the selection of towers by State Police officers. Such regulations shall prescribe qualifications for eligibility of towers to be selected by police officers under this section, shall describe the method to be used by police officers in selecting from eligible towers, and may make such other provisions as the Department of Safety and Homeland Security deems fit; provided, however, that there shall be no prohibitions against the owner of a vehicle from choosing the tower of that person's choice if no emergency exists. All eligible towers shall file with the Superintendent of the Delaware State Police a schedule of towing charges of such towers and other incidental charges of such tower customarily incurred in connection with the towing and storage of vehicles under the section.

21 Del. C. 1953, § 6901; 55 Del. Laws, c. 340; 61 Del. Laws, c. 247, § 1; 61 Del. Laws, c. 367, § 3; 63 Del. Laws, c. 173, § 1; 63 Del. Laws, c. 355, § 1; 66 Del. Laws, c. 313, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 74 Del. Laws, c. 110, §§ 115, 138; 76 Del. Laws, c. 401, § 16.;

(a) Anyone rendering services under this chapter or Chapter 44 of this title has the right to detain the vehicle or motor vehicle rendered services to, about or for, to secure the payment of such services and shall have a lien upon said vehicle or motor vehicle.

(b) The lienor shall, by certified mail, return receipt requested, notify the lienee of the towing charges and, if compensation for storage is claimed, the per diem rate of storage charges, and a statement that the lienee must pay such charges on or before the date mentioned in the notice, said date not to be less than 15 days from service thereof. Notice shall be sent to last known address of the lienee and secured party. If the identity of the last registered owner or secured party cannot be determined with reasonable certainty, the contents of the notice set forth in this subsection shall be published 1 time in the newspaper of general circulation in the area where the vehicle was removed. The notice may contain multiple listings of removed vehicles. Notice by publication locally shall be the responsibility of the lienor. The notice shall have the same effect as notice sent by certified mail.

(c) The lienor may, after the expiration of 15 days from date of notification, request the Division of Motor Vehicles to schedule a hearing to determine the intentions of the registered owner and/or secured party as to the disposition of said vehicle.

(1) Upon receiving such request the Division of Motor Vehicles shall, by certified mail, notify the owner of record if known and each secured party as shown on the records of the Division of Motor Vehicles of the date and time of the hearing and the right to be present and contest said proposed disposition of such vehicle.

(2) The hearing officer of the Division of Motor Vehicles shall notify the lienor and the Delaware State Police Auto Theft Unit of the date and time of the hearing.

(3) If identity of the last registered owner and of all secured parties cannot be determined with reasonable certainty the Division of Motor Vehicles shall notify the Delaware State Police Auto Theft Unit.

(4) The nonappearance of the owner and/or secured party at the scheduled hearing is:

a. A waiver of all rights, title, interest in the vehicle; and

b. A consent to dispose of the vehicle.

(5) The hearing officer shall determine the disposition of the vehicle if there is no objection at the hearing and shall certify that all applicable regulations of the Division have been met. The owner and/or secured party shall have 15 days from the date of the hearing with the Division of Motor Vehicles to appeal such disposition of said vehicle to the Director of Motor Vehicles. If after 15 days the owner and/or secured party has not filed an appeal to the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles, the Division of Motor Vehicles shall issue a salvage certificate of title to the lienor.

(6) If, however, the owner and/or secured party objects to the disposition of the vehicle at the hearing, further proceedings by the Division of Motor Vehicles shall cease and all parties will be notified of their right to file with a court of proper jurisdiction to seek judicial disposition.

61 Del. Laws, c. 247, § 2; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;