Chapter 9.40
VEHICLE IMPOUNDS AFTER CERTAIN ARRESTS AND CITATIONS

Sections:

9.40.010    Statutes adopted.

9.40.020    Purpose.

9.40.030    Impoundment authorized.

9.40.040    Continued impoundment.

9.40.050    Redemption.

9.40.060    Early release of impounded vehicles.

9.40.070    Contesting validity of impound or towing and storage charges.

9.40.080    Sale of vehicle.

9.40.010 Statutes adopted.

For the purpose of this chapter, RCW 46.20.342, 46.20.345, Chapter 46.55 RCW et al. and RCW 46.61.502, and 46.61.504 as in existence now or hereafter amended are adopted by reference. (Ord. 1430 § 2 (part), 2015).

9.40.020 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide for implementation of the state of Washington legislative intent to provide law enforcement with a mechanism to address the high number of individuals habitually driving without driver’s licenses during a time that their license and privilege to drive has been revoked or suspended.

This chapter also provides the authority, pursuant to RCW 46.55.113, to impound vehicles operated on public streets by individuals driving without licenses or while their privilege to drive has been suspended or revoked.

Additionally, the purpose of this chapter is to provide an incentive for individuals who have had their license and privilege to drive revoked or suspended to obtain a valid driver’s license. (Ord. 1430 § 2 (part), 2015).

9.40.030 Impoundment authorized.

(a)(1)    When a driver of a vehicle is arrested for a violation of RCW 46.61.502 (Driving under the influence) or 46.61.504 (Physical control of vehicle under the influence), the vehicle is subject to summary impoundment and must be impounded unless it is a commercial vehicle or farm transport vehicle under RCW 46.55.113(3)(c). With the exception of the twelve-hour hold mandated under this section, the procedures for notice, redemption, storage, auction, and sale shall remain the same as for other impounded vehicles under Chapter 46.55 RCW.

(2)    If the Othello law enforcement officer directing that a vehicle be impounded under this section has:

(A)    Waited thirty minutes after the police officer contacted the police dispatcher requesting a registered tow truck operator and the tow truck responding has not arrived; or

(B)    If the police officer is presented with exigent circumstances such as being called to another incident or due to limited available resources being required to return to patrol, the police officer may place the completed impound order and inventory inside the vehicle and secure the vehicle by closing the windows and locking the doors before leaving.

(3)    If a police officer directing that a vehicle be impounded under this section has secured the vehicle and left it pursuant to subsection (a)(2) of this section, the police officer and the government or agency employing the police officer shall not be liable for any damages to or theft of the vehicle or its contents that occur between the time the officer leaves and the time that the registered tow truck operator takes custody of the vehicle, or for the actions of any person who takes or removes the vehicle before the registered tow truck operator arrives.

(b)(1)    When a driver of a vehicle is arrested for a violation of RCW 46.61.502 or 46.61.504 and the driver is a registered owner of the vehicle, the impounded vehicle may not be redeemed within a twelve-hour period following the time the impounded vehicle arrives at the registered tow truck operator’s storage facility as noted in the registered tow truck operator’s master log, unless: (A) there are two or more registered owners of the vehicle or there is a legal owner of the vehicle that is not the driver of the vehicle, and (B) the vehicle is redeemed by a registered owner who is not the driver of the vehicle or by a legal owner who is not the driver of the vehicle.

(2)    When a driver of a vehicle is arrested for a violation of RCW 46.61.502 or 46.61.504 and the driver is a registered owner of the vehicle, the police officer directing the impound shall notify the driver that the impounded vehicle may not be redeemed within a twelve-hour period following the time the impounded vehicle arrives at the registered tow truck operator’s storage facility as noted in the registered tow truck operator’s master log, unless there are two or more registered owners or there is a legal owner who is not the driver of the vehicle. The police officer directing the impound shall notify the driver that the impounded vehicle may be redeemed by either a registered owner or legal owner, who is not the driver of the vehicle, after the impounded vehicle arrives at the registered tow truck operator’s storage facility as noted in the registered tow truck operator’s master log.

(c)(1)    When a driver of a vehicle is arrested for a violation of RCW 46.61.502 or 46.61.504 and the driver is not a registered owner of the vehicle, the impounded vehicle may be redeemed by a registered owner or legal owner, who is not the driver of the vehicle, after the impounded vehicle arrives at the registered tow truck operator’s storage facility as noted in the registered tow truck operator’s master log.

(2)    When a driver of a vehicle is arrested for a violation of RCW 46.61.502 or 46.61.504 and the driver is not a registered owner of the vehicle, the police officer directing the impound shall notify the driver that the impounded vehicle may be redeemed by a registered owner or legal owner, who is not the driver of the vehicle, after the impounded vehicle arrives at the registered tow truck operator’s storage facility as noted in the registered tow truck operator’s master log.

(3)    If the vehicle is a commercial vehicle or farm transport vehicle and the driver of the vehicle is not the owner of the vehicle, before the summary impoundment directed under subsection (a)(1) of this section, the police officer shall attempt in a reasonable and timely manner to contact the owner of the vehicle and may release the vehicle to the owner if the owner is reasonably available, as long as the owner was not in the vehicle at the time of the stop and arrest.

(4)    The registered tow truck operator shall notify the agency that ordered that the vehicle be impounded when the vehicle arrives at the registered tow truck operator’s storage facility and has been entered into the master log starting the twelve-hour period.

(d)(1)    When a driver of a vehicle is arrested for a violation of RCW 46.20.342, Driving while license invalidated, including driving while license suspended or revoked, driving under other license or permit while license suspended or revoked, the arresting officer may, in his/her own discretion, after considering reasonable alternatives, cause the vehicle to be impounded. When an arrest is made for violation of RCW 46.20.342 and the vehicle is a commercial vehicle, the driver of the vehicle is not the owner of the vehicle, the owner was not in the vehicle at the time, and the owner has not received a prior release under RCW 46.55.113(3) or 46.55.120(1)(a)(ii), prior to impounding the vehicle the officer shall attempt in a reasonable and timely manner to contact the owner of the vehicle and may release the vehicle to the owner if the owner is reasonably available.

(2)    When a driver of a vehicle is arrested for a violation of RCW 46.20.345, Operation under other license or permit while license suspended or revoked, the arresting officer may, in his/her own discretion, after considering reasonable alternatives, cause the vehicle to be impounded. When an arrest is made for violation of RCW 46.20.345 and the vehicle is a commercial vehicle, the driver of the vehicle is not the owner of the vehicle, the owner was not in the vehicle at the time, and the owner has not received a prior release under RCW 46.55.113(3) or 46.55.120(1)(a)(ii), prior to impounding the vehicle the officer shall attempt in a reasonable and timely manner to contact the owner of the vehicle and may release the vehicle to the owner if the owner is reasonably available.

(e)    In addition, an Othello law enforcement officer may take custody of a vehicle, at his or her discretion, and provide for its prompt removal to a place of safety under any of the following circumstances:

(1)    Whenever a police officer finds a vehicle standing upon the roadway in violation of any of the provisions of RCW 46.61.560, the officer may provide for the removal of the vehicle or require the driver or other person in charge of the vehicle to move the vehicle to a position off the roadway;

(2)    Whenever a police officer finds a vehicle unattended upon a highway where the vehicle constitutes an obstruction to traffic or jeopardizes public safety;

(3)    Whenever a police officer finds an unattended vehicle at the scene of an accident or when the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident is physically or mentally incapable of deciding upon steps to be taken to protect his or her property;

(4)    Whenever the driver of a vehicle is arrested and taken into custody by a police officer;

(5)    Whenever a police officer discovers a vehicle that the officer determines to be a stolen vehicle;

(6)    Whenever a vehicle without a special license plate, placard, or decal indicating that the vehicle is being used to transport a person with disabilities under RCW 46.19.010 is parked in a stall or space clearly and conspicuously marked under RCW 46.61.581, which space is provided on private property without charge or on public property;

(7)    Upon determining that a person is operating a motor vehicle without a valid and, if required, a specially endorsed driver’s license or with a license that has been expired for ninety days or more;

(8)    When a vehicle is illegally occupying a truck or commercial loading zone, restricted parking zone, bus, loading, hooded-meter, taxi, street construction or maintenance, or other similar zone where, by order of the director of transportation or chiefs of police or fire or their designees, parking is limited to designated classes of vehicles or is prohibited during certain hours, on designated days or at all times, if the zone has been established with signage for at least twenty-four hours and where the vehicle is interfering with the proper and intended use of the zone. Signage must give notice to the public that a vehicle will be removed if illegally parked in the zone;

(9)    When a vehicle with an expired registration of more than forty-five days is parked on a public street. (Ord. 1430 § 2 (part), 2015).

9.40.040 Continued impoundment.

(a)    If the driver is arrested for a violation of RCW 46.20.342(1)(c) (third degree suspended/revoked) and has no convictions for violations of RCW 46.20.342 in the past five years, the vehicle may be impounded, but no suspended driver hold shall be placed on the vehicle. If the driver is also the registered owner, then the vehicle shall be held until all outstanding penalties, fines, and forfeitures owed by him/her are satisfied. The driver/registered owner must present proof from a court of law that he/she has no outstanding penalties, fines, or forfeitures.

(b)    If the driver is arrested for a violation of RCW 46.20.342(1)(c) (third degree suspended/revoked) and has any prior convictions for violations of RCW 46.20.342 in the past five years, the vehicle may be held for thirty days.

(c)    If the driver of the vehicle is arrested for a violation of RCW 46.20.342(1)(a) or (b) (first or second degree suspended/revoked) and has no convictions for violations of RCW 46.20.342 in the past five years, the vehicle may be held for thirty days.

(d)    If the driver of the vehicle is arrested for a violation of RCW 46.20.342(1)(a) or (b) (first or second degree suspended/revoked) and has been convicted of a violation of RCW 46.20.342(1)(a) or (b) in the past five years, the vehicle may be held for sixty days.

(e)    If the driver of the vehicle is arrested for a violation of RCW 46.20.342(1)(a) or (b) (first or second degree suspended/revoked) and has been convicted of a violation of RCW 46.20.342(1)(a) or (b) two or more times in the past five years, the vehicle may be held for ninety days. (Ord. 1430 § 2 (part), 2015).

9.40.050 Redemption.

Vehicles or other items of personal property that are impounded pursuant to this chapter may be redeemed after the legal owner or person authorized by RCW 46.55.120 to redeem the vehicle complies with the provisions of this section and RCW 46.55.120. Upon compliance with these provisions, the legal owner or a person authorized to redeem under RCW 46.55.120 may present proof of compliance to a commissioned Othello law enforcement officer at the Othello police department any time during regular business hours. Upon proof of compliance, and the additional payment of a one hundred dollar administrative fee, the officer shall issue an order releasing the impounded vehicle. This fee will be credited to the crime prevention fund. The legal owner or person authorized to redeem the vehicle must present the order releasing the impounded vehicle to the towing agency. The vehicle shall be released by the towing agency upon receipt of such order releasing the impounded vehicle and the expiration of the required impound period as provided in this section and RCW 46.55.120. (Ord. 1430 § 2 (part), 2015).

9.40.060 Early release of impounded vehicles.

A vehicle may be released prior to the hold period upon a showing of economic or personal hardship to the spouse of the operator, taking into consideration public safety factors, including the operator’s criminal history and driving record; or that the owner of the vehicle was not the driver, the owner did not know that the driver’s license was suspended or revoked, and the owner has not received a prior release under RCW 46.55.120(1)(a)(ii) or 46.55.113(3). Release shall be denied in all other circumstances; provided, that a vehicle may be released in the sole discretion of the Othello police department upon presentation of a valid and current driver’s license and proof of liability insurance for the impounded vehicle by the driver who is the registered owner. All early release requests shall be in writing on an Othello police department provided form. Upon the approval of an early release, the redemption shall be in accordance with Section 9.40.050, Redemption. Any denial or approval of a release shall be in writing and shall include factors considered in reaching the decision. (Ord. 1430 § 2 (part), 2015).

9.40.070 Contesting validity of impound or towing and storage charges.

Any person seeking to redeem an impounded vehicle under this chapter has a right to a hearing in the Adams County district court pursuant to and in accordance with RCW 46.55.120.

(a)    Request for a hearing must be made in writing and signed by the person contesting the impound. Hearing requests must be filed with the Adams County district court within ten days of notice of impoundment being mailed or provided to the legal and registered owner as required by RCW 46.55.110. Immediately upon the failure of the driver or owner to timely request a hearing, the following shall occur: (1) the failure shall constitute a waiver of the right to a hearing, (2) the impoundment and associated costs of impoundment shall be deemed to be proper, and (3) the city shall not be liable for any charges arising from the impound.

(b)    Hearings shall determine whether the impoundment was proper; whether the associated removal, towing, storage, and any administrative fees were proper; and/or who is responsible for payment of said fees. The court may not adjust fees or charges that are in compliance with the posted or contracted rates. The burden of proof is upon the city to establish the impound was proper by a preponderance of the evidence. No determination of facts made at the hearing under this section shall have any collateral estoppel effect on a subsequent criminal prosecution and such determination shall not preclude litigation of those same facts in subsequent criminal prosecution. (Ord. 1430 § 2 (part), 2015).

9.40.080 Sale of vehicle.

Any vehicle impounded pursuant to this chapter shall be subject to the sale provisions of RCW 46.55.130 and other applicable statutes, as now enacted or hereafter amended. (Ord. 1430 § 2 (part), 2015).