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This entry was published on 2014-09-22
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SECTION 1224
Abandoned vehicles
Vehicle & Traffic (VAT) CHAPTER 71, TITLE 7, ARTICLE 33
§ 1224. Abandoned vehicles. 1. A motor vehicle shall be deemed to be
an abandoned vehicle if left unattended

(a) with no number plates affixed thereto, for more than six hours on
any highway or other public place;

(b) for more than twenty-four hours on any highway or other public
place, except a portion of a highway or public place on which parking is
legally permitted;

(c) for more than forty-eight hours, after the parking of such vehicle
shall have become illegal, if left on a portion of a highway or public
place on which parking is legally permitted;

(d) for more than ninety-six hours on property of another if left
without permission of the owner.

2. If an abandoned vehicle, at the time of abandonment, has no number
plates affixed and is of a wholesale value, taking into consideration
the condition of the vehicle, of one thousand two hundred fifty dollars
or less, ownership shall immediately vest in the local authority having
jurisdiction thereof and title to the vehicle shall vest in accordance
with applicable law and regulations of the commissioner, provided
however that a local authority shall not be required to obtain title to
an abandoned vehicle that is subject to the provisions of this
subdivision if the vehicle will be sold or otherwise disposed of as junk
or salvage, dismantled for use other than as a motor vehicle, or
otherwise destroyed.

3. (a) Except for vehicles governed by subdivision two, a local
authority having custody of an abandoned vehicle shall make an inquiry
concerning the last owner of such vehicle as follows:

(i) abandoned vehicle with number plates affixed--to the jurisdiction
which issued such number plates;

(ii) abandoned vehicle with no number plates affixed--the department
of motor vehicles.

(b) Such local authority shall notify the last owner, if known, that
the vehicle in question has been recovered as an abandoned vehicle and
that, if unclaimed, it will be sold at public auction or by bid after
ten days from the date such notice was given. If the agency described in
paragraph (a) also notifies such local authority that a lien or mortgage
exists such notice shall also be sent to the lienholder or mortgagee.
The commissioner shall prescribe the methods of giving notice. Any
person claiming such vehicle shall be required to pay the costs of
removal and storage of such vehicle.

(c) Ownership of such abandoned vehicles, if unclaimed, shall vest in
such local authority ten days from the date such notice is given; or if
the last owner cannot be ascertained, when notice of such fact is
received.

4. For the purposes of this section, a local authority entitled to
custody of an abandoned vehicle shall be the town in which the vehicle
was abandoned, or if abandoned in a city or village, the city or village
in which the vehicle was abandoned, except that if a vehicle is
abandoned on property of the New York state thruway authority or
property under the jurisdiction of the office of parks, recreation and
historic preservation, the department of transportation, or a public
authority or commission, such authority, office, department or
commission shall be entitled to the custody of such vehicle.
Notwithstanding any provision of this section to the contrary, the
office of general services shall be entitled to the custody of any
vehicle abandoned on state property subsequent to its sale by such
office. The commissioner may, by regulation, provide that a county may
act as the agent for a local authority for the purpose of removing and
disposing of abandoned vehicles.

5. (a) Such local authority shall determine if an abandoned vehicle is
suitable for operation on the public highways. If so, the vehicle shall
be sold at public auction to the highest bidder or converted pursuant to
subdivision six of this section.

(b) If such local authority determines that an abandoned vehicle is
not suitable for operation on the public highways, it shall sell the
vehicle to a vehicle dismantler or scrap processor registered or
certified pursuant to section four hundred fifteen-a of this chapter or
to a vehicle dismantler or scrap processor who does not have a place of
business in this state but who conforms to the laws and regulations of
the state in which he has a place of business.

(c) An abandoned vehicle without a vehicle identification number plate
must be sold only to a vehicle dismantler or a scrap processor
registered or certified pursuant to section four hundred fifteen-a of
this chapter or to a vehicle dismantler or scrap processor who does not
have a place of business in this state but who conforms to the laws and
regulations of the state in which he has a place of business. Nothing
contained herein shall be construed as preventing a local authority from
applying for a replacement vehicle identification number plate.

6. (a) A local authority, if authorized by local law, may convert to
its own use those abandoned vehicles not affected by subdivision two of
this section or may, by sale or gift, transfer title to any of such
vehicles to any other municipal corporation for use by its law
enforcement agency, provided however, the total number of vehicles
converted and/or transferred in any calendar year may not exceed one
percent of the local authority's unclaimed abandoned vehicles not
affected by subdivision two of this section or two such vehicles,
whichever is greater.

(b) Any proceeds from the sale of an abandoned vehicle less any
expenses incurred by such local authority shall be held by the local
authority without interest, for the benefit of the owner of such vehicle
for a period of one year. If not claimed within such one year period,
such proceeds shall be paid into the general fund of such local
authority.

7. (a) No person shall cause any vehicle to be an abandoned vehicle.
There shall be a rebuttable presumption that the owner of an abandoned
vehicle caused such vehicle to be abandoned. A violation of this
subdivision shall be punishable by a fine of not less than two hundred
fifty dollars nor more than one thousand dollars. In a city having a
population of one million or more, a violation of this subdivision shall
in addition be punishable by a civil penalty of not less than two
hundred fifty dollars nor more than one thousand dollars.

(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in addition to those
persons otherwise authorized to enforce this subdivision and adjudicate
violations thereof, this subdivision shall also be enforceable in a city
having a population of one million or more by an agency or agencies
designated for such purpose by the mayor of such city, and notices of
violation may be returnable to the environmental control board of such
city, which shall have the power to impose the civil penalties herein
provided. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, service of a
notice of violation for a violation of this subdivision committed in
such city may be made upon an owner by first class mail, postage
prepaid, and any such notice served by mail shall be returnable only to
such environmental control board. Such service by first class mail shall
be deemed complete upon mailing of the notice of violation, unless the
notice of violation is returned to the sender by the United States
postal service for any reason other than refusal of delivery. In
addition, any notice of violation for a violation of this subdivision
may be served by a means prescribed in article three of the civil
practice law and rules or article three of the business corporation law.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, such civil penalties imposed
by such environmental control board shall be paid into the general fund
of such city. Notwithstanding section one hundred fifty-five of this
chapter or any other provision of law, where a person has been
adjudicated by such environmental control board to be in violation of
this subdivision, such adjudication shall not have the force and effect
of a conviction of a traffic infraction or of a violation of any
provision of this chapter for any purpose not specified in this
subdivision.

(c) Any final order issued pursuant to this subdivision by an
environmental control board of a city having a population of one million
or more shall constitute a judgment which may be entered in any place
provided for the entry of civil judgments within the state, and may be
enforced without court proceedings in the same manner as the enforcement
of money judgments entered in civil actions; provided, however, that no
such judgment shall be entered that exceeds the sum of ten thousand
dollars for each respondent. Notwithstanding the preceding sentence,
before a judgment based upon a default may be so entered, such
environmental control board must have notified the respondent by first
class mail in such form as such environmental control board may direct:
(1) of the default decision and order and the penalty imposed; (2) that
a judgment will be entered in any place provided for the entry of civil
judgments in the state; and (3) that entry of such judgment may be
avoided by requesting a stay of default for good cause shown and either
requesting a hearing or entering a plea pursuant to the rules of such
environmental control board within thirty days of the mailing of such
notice. No judgment based upon a default may be so entered by the
environmental control board within less than sixty days from the
completion of service by mail of the notice of violation as provided in
paragraph (b) of this subdivision. Any requirement of any provision of
law other than this subdivision that relates to the manner of service of
the notice of violation that precedes any final order of such
environmental control board shall not apply to a final order issued
pursuant to this subdivision. A judgment entered pursuant to this
paragraph shall remain in full force and effect for eight years.

(d) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, where the
environmental control board of a city having a population of one million
or more has adjudicated any person to be in violation of this
subdivision and the civil penalty therefor is not paid, such
environmental control board shall notify the commissioner of motor
vehicles of the judgment, who shall suspend any license of such person
to operate a motor vehicle in this state, or, if such person is
unlicensed, such person's privilege of obtaining a license issued by the
commissioner, or, if such person is a non-resident, such person's
privilege of operating a motor vehicle in this state, pending payment of
such civil penalty. The procedures set forth in the first paragraph of
subdivision seven of section five hundred ten of this chapter shall be
applicable to a suspension pursuant to this paragraph.

(e) For purposes of this subdivision only, the term "owner" means any
person, corporation, partnership, firm, agency, association, lessor or
organization who at the time of the issuance of a notice of violation
for a violation of this subdivision:

(i) is the beneficial or equitable owner of the abandoned vehicle; or

(ii) has title to such vehicle; or

(iii) is the registrant or co-registrant of such vehicle registered
with the department of motor vehicles of this state or any other state,
territory, district, province, nation or other jurisdiction; or

(iv) uses such vehicle in its renting and/or leasing business; or

(v) is an owner of such vehicle as defined by section one hundred
twenty-eight of this chapter or subdivision (a) of section twenty-one
hundred one of this chapter.

9. The last owner of an abandoned vehicle shall be liable to such
local authority for the costs of removal and storage of such vehicle.

10. The commissioner shall prescribe by regulation such forms and
procedures necessary or desirable to effectuate the provisions of this
section. Such regulations may include procedures for the removal and
disposition of vehicle identification numbers of abandoned vehicles and
forms for local records for abandoned vehicles and inquiries relating to
ownership of such vehicles.