Chapter 11.72
IMPOUNDING VEHICLES

Sections:

11.72.010    Impoundment of vehicles and/or trailers.

11.72.020    Disposition procedure.

11.72.010 Impoundment of vehicles and/or trailers.

A. Impoundment of Vehicles and/or Trailers for Violations. The chief of police, or his designee, is hereby authorized to impound any vehicle and/or trailer:

1. Considered abandoned, pursuant to AS 28.11.010, et seq.;

2. Parked in violation of any municipal ordinance, or state regulation or law;

3. Creating an unsafe condition;

4. Unlawfully blocking or obstructing the efficient movement of traffic;

5. When an arrest of the owner or operator of the vehicle is made by a law enforcement officer under conditions set forth in 13 AAC 02.345(c).

The police may, pursuant to this section, impound a vehicle and/or trailer by immobilizing it or removing or having it removed and placed in borough or commercial storage with all expenses and risks of towing and storage to be borne by the owner of such vehicle and/or trailer. The impound procedure to be followed is governed by the emergency or nonemergency facts relating to the reason for the impound and set forth in subsections (C) and (D) of this section.

B. Impound Fee. Any vehicle and/or trailer impounded by the police shall be subject to and liable for an impound fee of $150.00, plus towing charges.

C. Nonemergency Impound Procedure.

1. Pre-Impound Hearing. This subsection applies to impoundment of vehicles and/or trailers under all circumstances not specifically set forth in subsection (D) of this section. As to any vehicle and/or trailer proposed for impoundment pursuant to this subsection by or at the request of a peace officer, or an employee authorized by the borough manager, the registered owner, or a person in lawful possession, or the record lienholders of the vehicle and/or trailer have the right to a pre-impoundment administrative hearing to determine whether there is probable cause to impound the vehicle and/or trailer. Such person must file a written demand for such a hearing with the borough within seven days after such person has learned such vehicle and/or trailer will be impounded or within seven days after the mailing of the notice required herein, whichever occurs first.

2. Notice. At least 10 days prior to impounding any vehicle and/or trailer, the police shall cause notice of the impoundment action to be taken by the police to be posted on the vehicle and/or trailer. A copy of the notice of intended impoundment shall be given to the registered owner or lawful possessor and record lienholders of the vehicle and/or trailer at his/her last known address, either by personal delivery to the person to be notified or by certified mail, return receipt requested. The giving of notice by mail is considered complete upon return of the receipt or upon return of the notice undeliverable, refused, or unclaimed. Posting of notice on the vehicle and/or trailer is sufficient even though the mailed notice is undeliverable, refused or unclaimed. Proof of the giving of notice in either manner may be made by the affidavit of the person giving the notice, naming the person to whom the notice was given and specifying the time, place, and manner of giving the notice.

D. Emergency Impound Procedure.

1. Post-Impound Hearing. This subsection applies to impoundment of vehicles and/or trailers in the following circumstances only: (a) vehicles and/or trailers blocking or obstructing the efficient movement of traffic; (b) vehicles and/or trailers creating an unsafe condition; (c) vehicles and/or trailers left unattended after an arrest of the owner or operator of the vehicle and/or trailer is made by a law enforcement officer; and (d) vehicles and/or trailers parked in violation of 13 AAC 02.340. As to any vehicle and/or trailer proposed for impound pursuant to this subsection, by or at the request of a law enforcement officer or employee authorized by the chief of police, the owner or lawful possessor of the vehicle and/or trailer has the right to a post-impoundment administrative hearing to determine whether there was probable cause for impounding the vehicle and/or trailer if such person files a written demand for the hearing.

2. Notice. Immediately after impounding, a copy of the notice shall be personally delivered or mailed to the registered owner or lawful possessor and record lienholder of the vehicle and/or trailer at his/her last-known address in accordance with the procedures set forth in subsection (C)(2) of this section. A notice shall also be posted on the vehicle and/or trailer.

E. Contents of Notice of Impoundment. The notice shall contain the make, model and identification number of the vehicle and/or trailer, the name and address, if known, of the owner, and the location of the vehicle and/or trailer’s registered owner, and set forth the statute, regulation and ordinance violated. In the event that the name and address of the owner is not known and not practically ascertainable, then the notice posted on the vehicle and/or trailer shall constitute notice. In addition to the contents of the notice set forth above, the notice for a nonemergency impound shall also contain substantially the following:

ATTENTION. As vehicle and/or trailer owners or other persons entitled to possession of impounded vehicle and/or trailers, you have the following options:

1. You may recover possession of your vehicle and/or trailer by paying to the borough the impound and towing costs.

Additional notice requirements for emergency impound:

1. If you take issue with the impoundment of your vehicle and/or trailer, you may:

a. Recover possession of the vehicle and/or trailer by paying the impound and towing fees; and

b. Demand in writing an administrative hearing before an independent hearing officer who is to determine whether there was a sufficient factual and legal basis for impounding your vehicle and/or trailer. To be entitled to such hearing, your written demand must be filed with the Borough Clerk, within (i) seven days after you learned that your vehicle and/or trailer was impounded or was missing; or (ii) within seven days after the Borough mailed notice to the vehicle and/or trailer’s registered owner or lawful possessor that the vehicle and/or trailer had been impounded; whichever occurs first. The hearing must be held within 48 hours after the filing of your written demand.

A determination that there was an insufficient factual or legal basis for impounding your vehicle and/or trailer will require the borough to refund any fees paid to release the vehicle and/or trailer to you without your having to pay the towing and impound fees, otherwise all fees shall be owing. A hearing may be demanded by filing a written request with the Wrangell Chief of Police or his designee at the Police Department between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on any day other than Saturday, Sunday, and borough holidays.

F. Hearing. A hearing shall be conducted before an impartial hearing officer designated by the borough manager or designee, the hearing to be held within 48 hours of receipt of a written demand therefor from the person seeking the hearing unless such person waives in writing the right to a speedy hearing. Saturdays, Sundays and borough holidays are to be excluded from the calculation of the 48-hour period. The hearing officer shall be someone other than the person who will direct the impounding of the vehicle and/or trailer. The sole issue before the hearing officer shall be whether there is probable cause to impound the vehicle and/or trailer in question. “Probable cause to impound” means such a state of facts as would lead a person of ordinary care prudence to believe that there was a breach of local, state, or federal law or that the impoundment comes within the authority to impound set out above. The hearing officer shall conduct the hearing in an informal manner and shall not be bound by technical rules of evidence. The person demanding the hearing shall carry the burden of establishing that such person has the right to possession of the vehicle and/or trailer. The borough (police) shall carry the burden of establishing that there is probable cause to impound the vehicle and/or trailer in question. At the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer shall prepare a written decision. A copy of such decision and the reasons therefor shall be provided to the person demanding the hearing and the owner of the vehicle and/or trailer if such owner is not the person requesting the hearing. The hearing officer’s decision shall not affect any criminal proceedings in connection with the impound in question and any criminal charges involved in such proceeding may only be challenged in the appropriate court. The decision of the hearing officer is final. Failure of the owner or lawful possessor who has had notice to request or attend a scheduled prior post-impoundment hearing shall be deemed a waiver of the right to such hearing.

G. The hearing officer shall only determine that as to the vehicle and/or trailer in question either that there is probable cause to impound the vehicle and/or trailer or that there is no such probable cause. In the event that the hearing officer determines that there is no probable cause, the hearing officer shall prepare and date a certificate of no probable cause, copies of which shall be given to the owner, and to the police. In the event that the hearing officer determines that there is probable cause, the hearing officer shall prepare and date a certificate of probable cause, copies of which shall be given to the owner and the police. Upon receipt of such certificate of probable cause, police may proceed with impoundment, if not already done, and disposition of the vehicle and/or trailer by removal, sale, or destruction as authorized by this chapter. [Ord. 576 § 4, 1991.]

11.72.020 Disposition procedure.

A. Notice of Sale. Any vehicle and/or trailer impounded shall be held by the borough for a period of not less than 30 days, during which the chief of police or his designee shall cause to be sent by certified mail or personal delivery a notice to the lawful or registered owner thereof. The police will exercise due diligence in attempting to notify the lawful or registered owner and shall accurately describe the vehicle and/or trailer, give the date the vehicle and/or trailer was impounded and inform the owner of the intention of the borough to sell the vehicle and/or trailer at public auction, on a day and at a place and time certain, for cash to the highest bidder, and inform the owner that at any time prior to the auction he may redeem the vehicle and/or trailer by a cash payment for all charges against the vehicle and/or trailer. The chief of police or his designee shall also publish in a newspaper of general circulation in the borough a notice describing the vehicle and/or trailer, the owner’s name, if known, and the intention of the borough to sell the vehicle and/or trailer and other vehicles and/or trailers similarly described, at public auction, on a day and at a place and time certain for cash to the highest bidder, the public auction to occur not less than 10 days after publication of the notice. At any time prior to the auction, the owner may redeem the vehicle and/or trailer by a cash payment for all charges against the vehicle and/or trailer.

B. Sale. The minimum acceptable bid shall be a sum equal to the borough’s charges against the vehicle and/or trailer, including the cost of all towing plus $150.00. Upon the sale being made, the borough shall make and deliver its bill of sale, without warranty, conveying the vehicle and/or trailer to the buyer.

C. Other Disposition. If at the public sale there are not acceptable bidders for the vehicle and/or trailer, the borough may destroy, sell at private sale, or otherwise dispose of the vehicle and/or trailer. The owner shall be liable for any costs not covered by the disposition.

D. The chief of police shall keep a permanent record of all vehicles and/or trailers impounded containing date of impoundment, description of vehicle and/or trailer, cause for which impounded date of redemption, if redeemed, and amount paid upon redemption, date of letter to owner, if owner known, notice of sale, record of sale, price paid at sale and name of purchaser. [Ord. 576 § 4, 1991.]