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(A) Upon the impoundment of an abandoned motor vehicle under § 71.02, the Department of Public Safety shall notify, not later than the tenth day after taking the motor vehicle into custody, by certified mail, return receipt requested, the last known registered owner of the motor vehicle and all lien holders of records, pursuant to the Certificate of Title Act, being Tex. Trans. Code, Ch. 501, or Parks and Wildlife Code, Ch. 31, that the vehicle has been taken into custody.
(B) The notice shall describe the year, make, model and vehicle identification number of the abandoned motor vehicle, set forth the location of the facility where the motor vehicle is being held, inform the owner and any lien holders of their right to reclaim the motor vehicle within 20 days after the date of the notice upon payment of all towing, preservation and storage charges resulting from placing the vehicle in custody, or garage keepers' charges if notice is pursuant to the provisions hereof dealing with garage keepers and abandoned motor vehicles.
(C) The notice shall state that the failure of the owner or lien holder to exercise their right to reclaim the vehicle within the time provided shall be deemed a waiver by the owner and all lien holders of all right, title and interest in the vehicle and their consent to the sale of the abandoned motor vehicle at a public auction.
(1) If the identity of the last registered owner cannot be determined, or if the registration contains no address for the owner; or, if it is impossible to determine with reasonable certainty the identity and addresses of all lien holders, notice by one publication in one newspaper of general circulation in the area where the motor vehicle was abandoned shall be sufficient to meet all requirements of notice pursuant to this chapter. The notice by publication can contain multiple listings of abandoned motor vehicles. Any such notice shall be published within the time requirements prescribed for notice by certified mail, and shall have the same contents required for a notice by certified mail. The consequences and effect of failure to reclaim an abandoned motor vehicle shall be as set forth in a valid notice given pursuant to this chapter.
(2) The Department of Public Safety, or an agent of the Department of Public Safety, that takes custody of an abandoned motor vehicle is entitled to reasonable storage fees for:
(a) A period of not more than ten days beginning on the day the Department of Public Safety or an agent of the Department of Public Safety takes custody and continuing through the day the Department of Public Safety or an agent of the Department of Public Safety mails notice as provided by this chapter; and
(b) A period beginning on the day after the day the Department of Public Safety or an agent of the Department of Public Safety mails notice and continuing through the day any accrued charges are paid and the motor vehicle is removed.
(3) If an abandoned motor vehicle has not been reclaimed as provided for in division (C)(1) above, the Department of Public Safety shall sell the abandoned motor vehicle at a public auction. Proper notice of the public auction shall be given, and in cases of garage keepers' liens, the garage keeper shall be notified of the time and place of such auction. The purchaser of the motor vehicle shall take title to the motor vehicle free and clear of all liens and claims of ownership, shall receive a sales receipt from the Department of Public Safety and shall be entitled to register the purchased vehicle and receive a certificate of title. The Department of Public Safety shall reimburse itself from the proceeds of the sale for the expenses of the auction, and costs of towing, preserving, and storing the vehicle that resulted from placing the abandoned motor vehicle in custody, and all notice and publication costs incurred pursuant to division (C)(1) above. Any remainder from the proceeds of a sale shall be held for the owner of the vehicle or entitled lien holder for 90 days, and then shall be deposited in a special fund that shall remain available for the payment of auction, towing, preserving, storage and all notice and publication costs that result from placing other abandoned motor vehicles in custody, whenever the proceeds from a sale of such other abandoned motor vehicles are insufficient to meet those expenses and costs.
(4) (a) A motor vehicle left for more than ten days in a storage facility operated for commercial purposes after notice is given by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the owner and to any lien holder of record under the Certificate of Title Act, being Tex. Trans. Code, Ch. 501, to pick up the vehicle, or for more than ten days after a period when under a contract the vehicle was to remain on the premises of the storage facility, or a motor vehicle left for more than ten days in a storage facility by someone other than the registered owner or by a person authorized to have possession of the motor vehicle under a contract of use, service, storage or repair, is considered an abandoned motor vehicle, and shall be reported by the garage keeper to the Department of Public Safety. If the notice to the owner or a lien holder is returned by the post office unclaimed, notice by one publication in one newspaper of general circulation in the area in which the vehicle was left in storage is sufficient notice.
(b) If a garage keeper or storage facility acquires possession of a motor vehicle for a purpose other than repair, the garage keeper or storage facility is entitled to towing, preservation and notification charges and to reasonable storage fees, in addition to storage fees earned pursuant to contract, for a maximum of ten days only until notification is mailed to the last known registered owner and all lien holders of record as provided by division (C)(1) above. After the notice is mailed, storage fees may continue until the vehicle is removed and all accrued charges are paid. A garage keeper who fails to report the possession of an abandoned motor vehicle to the Department of Public Safety within ten days after it becomes abandoned may no longer claim reimbursement for storage of the vehicle.
(c) The Department of Public Safety, upon receipt of a report from a garage keeper of the possession of a vehicle considered abandoned under the provisions of this section shall follow the notification procedures provided in this chapter, except that custody of the vehicle shall remain with the garage keeper until after compliance with the notification requirements. A fee of $2 shall accompany the report of the garage keeper to the Department of Public Safety receiving the report and used to defray the cost of notification or other cost incurred in the disposition of an abandoned motor vehicle.
(d) An abandoned motor vehicle left in a storage facility and not reclaimed after notice is sent in the manner provided in this chapter shall be taken into custody by the Department of Public Safety and sold in the manner provided by division (C)(3) above. The proceeds of a sale under this section shall first be applied to the garage keeper's charges for servicing, storage and repair, but as compensation for the expense incurred by the Department of Public Safety in placing the vehicle in custody and the expense of auction, the Department of Public Safety shall retain 2% of the gross proceeds of the sale of each vehicle auctioned, unless the gross proceeds are less than $10. If the gross proceeds are less than $10, the Department of Public Safety shall retain the $10 to defray expenses of custody and auction. Surplus proceeds remaining from an auction shall be distributed in accordance with division (C)(3) above.
(e) Except for the termination or limitation of claim for storage for failure to report an abandoned motor vehicle, nothing in this section may be construed to impair any lien of a garage keeper under the laws of this state.
(f) A person charging fees under division (C)(2) above commits an offense if the person charges a storage fee for a period of time not authorized. An offense under this division is punishable by a fine of not less than $200 nor more than $500.
(2005 Code, § 8-3-4) (Ord. 200728A, passed 7-28-2020)