[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Upper Southampton 1-21-1986 as Ch. 15, Part 5, of the 1986 Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter is enacted under authority of § 6109(a-22) of the Vehicle Code, and gives authority to the township to remove and impound those vehicles which have been abandoned or are not legally entitled to operate or park on the streets and highways of the commonwealth under authority of the Vehicle Code.
Editor's Note: See 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 101 et seq.
[Amended 12-16-1986 by Ord. No. 243]
A vehicle (other than a pedalcycle) shall be presumed to be abandoned under any of the following circumstances, but the presumption is rebuttable by a preponderance of the evidence:
The vehicle is physically inoperable and is left unattended on a highway or other public property for more than 48 hours.
The vehicle has remained illegally on a highway or other public property for a period of more than 48 hours.
The vehicle has remained on private property without the consent of the owner or person in control of the property for more than 48 hours.
Vehicles and equipment used or to be used in construction or in the operation or maintenance of highways or public utility facilities, which are left in a manner which does not interfere with the normal movement of traffic, shall not be considered to be abandoned.
Outside business and residence districts. Whenever any police officer finds a vehicle in violation of any of the provisions of § 3351 of the Vehicle Code (relating to stopping, standing and parking outside business and residence districts), the officer may move the vehicle, or cause the vehicle to be moved, or require the driver or other person in charge of the vehicle to move the vehicle, to a position off the roadway where the vehicle will not interfere unduly with the normal movement of traffic or constitute a safety hazard.
Unattended vehicle obstructing traffic. Any police officer may remove or cause to be removed to a place of safety any unattended vehicle illegally left standing upon any highway, bridge, causeway or in any tunnel, in such position or under such circumstances as to interfere unduly with the normal movement of traffic or constitute a safety hazard.
Removal to garage or place of safety. Any police officer may remove or cause to be removed to the place of business of the operator of a wrecker or to a nearby garage or other place of safety any vehicle found upon a highway under any of the following circumstances:
Report has been made that the vehicle has been stolen or taken without the consent of its owner.
The person or persons in charge of the vehicle are physically unable to provide for the custody or removal of the vehicle.
The person driving or in control of the vehicle is arrested for an alleged offense for which the officer is required by law to take the person arrested before an issuing authority without unnecessary delay.
The vehicle is in violation of § 3353 of the Vehicle Code (relating to prohibitions in specified places) except for overtime parking.
Notice to owner prior to removal.
Prior to removal of an abandoned vehicle bearing a registration plate, certificate of inspection or vehicle identification number plate by which the last registered owner of the vehicle can be determined, the Police Department shall send a notice by certified mail to the last registered owner of the vehicle informing the owner that unless the vehicle is moved to a suitable location within seven days of the date notice is mailed, the vehicle will be removed under this section and held at a suitable facility where it may be reclaimed by the owner in accordance with the provisions of § 7306 (relating to payment of costs upon reclaiming vehicle). If the abandoned motor vehicle does not bear an identifiable registration plate, certificate of inspection or vehicle identification number plate, the notice may be secured to the vehicle.
If, within the seven-day period, the owner so requests, the owner shall be given an opportunity to explain to the police officer or department why the owner believes the vehicle should not be removed. If the police officer or department determines that the vehicle shall, nonetheless, be removed, the owner shall be given an additional 48 hours to remove the vehicle, have it removed or demand a hearing, which shall conform to the requirements of 2 Pa.C.S.A. Ch. 5, Subch. B (relating to practice and procedure of local agencies). The police officer or department shall inform the owner of the right to a hearing by delivering to the owner a notice warning the owner that, unless the vehicle is removed or a hearing is demanded, the owner shall be subject to the provisions of § 7306. If, as a result of the hearing, it is determined that the vehicle will be removed, the owner shall be given an additional 48 hours to remove the vehicle or have it removed. The hearing shall be before a civilian officer or employee of the municipality in which the vehicle is located.
The provision for notice set forth in this subsection is applicable only if the vehicle is abandoned upon a highway and is not in violation of § 3351(a) or 3353(a) and (b) of the Vehicle Code. Notice under this subsection is in addition to any other notice requirements provided in the Vehicle Code.
Any police officer may remove, or removal and impounding of vehicles under this chapter shall be done only by "approved storage garages" that shall be designated from time to time by the Board of Supervisors. Every such garage shall submit evidence to the Board of Supervisors that it is bonded or has acquired liability insurance in an amount satisfactory to the Board of Supervisors as sufficient to indemnify owners of impounded vehicles against loss or damage to those vehicles while in the custody of the garage keeper for the purpose of towing or storage. The approved storage garage shall submit to the Board of Supervisors its schedule of charges for towing and storage of vehicles under this chapter, and, when the schedule is approved by the Board of Supervisors, those charges shall be adhered to by the approved storage garage; no different schedule of charges shall be demanded of or collected from any person whose vehicle is removed or impounded under this chapter by any approved storage garage. The Board of Supervisors shall delete from its list of approved storage garages any garage that makes any unapproved charge in connection with any vehicle removed or impounded under this chapter.
The payment of any towing and storage charges authorized by this chapter shall, unless payment is made "under protest," be final and conclusive, and shall constitute a waiver of any right to recover the money so paid. If payment of any towing or storage charges is made "under protest," the offender shall be entitled to a hearing before a District Justice. Payment of towing and storage charges shall not relieve the owner or driver of any vehicle from liability for any fine or penalty for the violation of the provision of this chapter for which the vehicle was removed or impounded.
In order to reclaim his vehicle, the owner shall pay towing and storage costs, plus a $25 fee of which $10 shall be transferred to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation by the garage to which the vehicle was taken.
The township shall cause a record to be kept of all vehicles impounded under this chapter and shall be able at all reasonable times to furnish the owners or the agents of the owners of those vehicles with information as to the place of storage of the vehicle.
No vehicle shall be removed under the authority of this chapter or the Vehicle Code if, at the time of the intended removal, the owner or the person for the time being in charge of the vehicle is present and expresses a willingness and intention to remove the vehicle immediately.
Any person who shall violate any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be sentenced to pay a fine of $50 together with all costs of disposing of the vehicle under provisions of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 7301 et seq. (1977), as hereafter amended, supplemented, modified or reenacted by the General Assembly of Pennsylvania.