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Substitute House Bill No. 5246

Public Act No. 04-30

AN ACT CONCERNING THE NOTIFICATION OF LIENHOLDERS OF MOTOR VEHICLES.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Subsections (e) to (g), inclusive, of section 14-150 of the general statutes, as amended by section 4 of public act 03-264, are repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(e) Within forty-eight hours of the time that a motor vehicle is taken into custody and stored pursuant to subsection (b) or (c) of this section, the affixing department or parking authority shall give written notice by certified mail to the owner and any lienholders of such motor vehicle, if [known] the same appears on the records of the Department of Motor Vehicles, which notice shall state (1) that the motor vehicle has been taken into custody and stored, (2) the location of storage of the motor vehicle, (3) that, unless title has already vested in the municipality pursuant to subsection (d), such motor vehicle may be sold after fifteen days if the market value of such motor vehicle does not exceed one thousand five hundred dollars or after forty-five days if the value of such motor vehicle exceeds one thousand five hundred dollars, and (4) that the owner has a right to contest the validity of such taking by application, on a form prescribed by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, to the hearing officer named in such notice within ten days from the date of such notice. Such application forms shall be made readily available to the public at all offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles, parking authorities authorized under an ordinance adopted pursuant to section 7-204a to enforce parking regulations and state and local police departments.

(f) (1) The chief executive officer of each town shall appoint a suitable person, who shall not be a member of any state or local police department, to be a hearing officer to hear applications to determine whether or not the towing within such municipality of such motor vehicle was authorized under the provisions of this section. Two or more towns may join in appointing such hearing officer; provided any such hearing shall be held at a location which is as near to the town within which such motor vehicle was towed as is reasonable and practicable. The commissioner shall establish by regulation the qualifications necessary for hearing officers and procedures for the holding of such hearings. If it is determined at such hearing that the vehicle was not a menace to traffic, abandoned or unregistered, as the case may be, the owner of such motor vehicle shall not be liable for any expenses incurred as a result of the taking and storage of such motor vehicle, the lien provisions of this section shall not apply to such owner, and the department which took and stored such motor vehicle shall be liable for such expenses. If the owner, prior to such determination, pays such expenses and the storage charges of such motor vehicle, and it is determined at such hearing that the motor vehicle was not a menace to traffic, abandoned or unregistered, as the case may be, the department or parking authority which took such motor vehicle shall be liable to such owner for the amount paid by such owner. Any person aggrieved by the decision of such hearing officer may, within fifteen days of the notice of such decision, appeal to the superior court for the judicial district wherein such hearing was held.

(2) The chief executive officer of each municipality shall designate a suitable person who shall be responsible for the collection of data concerning abandoned motor vehicles within such municipality and the preparation and submission of periodic reports to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles which shall contain such information as the commissioner may require.

(g) The owner or keeper of any garage or other place where such motor vehicle is stored shall have a lien upon the same for such owner's or keeper's storage charges. Unless title has already vested in the municipality pursuant to subsection (d) of this section, if the current market value of such motor vehicle as determined in good faith by such owner or keeper does not exceed one thousand five hundred dollars and such motor vehicle has been stored for a period of not less than fifteen days, such owner or keeper may, unless an application filed by the owner pursuant to subsection [(d)] (e) of this section is pending and the owner of such motor vehicle has notified such owner or keeper that such application for hearing has been filed, sell the same for storage and towing charges owed thereon, provided a notice of intent to sell shall be sent to the commissioner, [and] the owner and any lienholder of record of such motor vehicle, if known, five days before the sale of such vehicle. If the current market value of such motor vehicle as determined in good faith by such owner or keeper exceeds one thousand five hundred dollars and if such motor vehicle has been so stored for a period of forty-five days, such owner or keeper shall, unless an application filed by the owner pursuant to subsection [(d)] (e) of this section is pending and the owner of such motor vehicle has notified such owner or keeper that such application for hearing has been filed, sell the same at public auction for cash, at such owner's or keeper's place of business, and apply the avails of such sale toward the payment of such owner's or keeper's charges and the payment of any debt or obligation incurred by the officer who placed the same in storage, provided if the last place of abode of the owner of such motor vehicle is known to or may be ascertained by such garage owner or keeper by the exercise of reasonable diligence, notice of the time and place of sale shall be given to such owner and any lienholder of record by mailing such notice to such owner in a registered or certified letter, postage paid, at such last usual place of abode, at least five days before the time of sale. At any public auction held pursuant to this subsection, such garage owner or keeper may set a minimum bid equal to the amount of such owner's or keeper's charges and obligations with respect to the tow and storage of the motor vehicle. If no such bid is made, such owner or keeper may sell or dispose of such vehicle.

Approved April 28, 2004