SB 0078 Towing of Vehicles Regulated
Committee:COMMLR Number:S0482.03P
Last Action:05/02/95 - Hearing Conducted H Motor Vehicle & Traffic Regulations Com.
Title:SCS/SB 78
Effective Date:August 28, 1995
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Current Bill Summary

SCS/SB 78 - This act incorporates language from SBs 67, 78 and 309.

Chapter 301, RSMo, regarding registration and licensing of motor vehicles, has been modified by this act to specifically address the issues surrounding salvage vehicles, salvage certificates of title, and stolen vehicle certificates of title.

DEFINITIONS - Salvage vehicles are defined according to the number of primary, major and minor component parts damaged.

TITLING - Prior salvage vehicles shall have the term "Prior Salvage Vehicle" printed upon subsequent original titles issued. Notarized statements shall accompany bills of sales for all primary, major and minor component parts when applying for title. Copies of titles are not required for minor component parts unless they have serial numbers. Special brands are required on titles for all vehicles suffering at least $1000 of fire or water damage. Insurance companies shall provide information to the DOR when title to a vehicle is acquired under a claim of insurance.

Salvage titles may be reassigned only by registered dealers. Stolen vehicle titles are not negotiable. Neither title may be used to register a vehicle. Upon recovery of a stolen motor vehicle, the insurance company shall obtain either a salvage or original title. A criminal penalty is imposed upon persons failing to apply for a salvage certificate of title.

Any person acquiring or bringing a salvage vehicle into the state shall apply for a salvage certificate of title. The application shall include the type of damage to the vehicle. Vehicles over seven years old must also receive salvage certificates of title. Whenever a salvage vehicle is repaired, the vehicle may be examined, titled and registered as a "Prior Salvage Vehicle".

Motor vehicle dealers shall make a window disclosure if a vehicle is a "Prior Salvage Vehicle". A violation is a Class A misdemeanor. Salvage pool sales shall be open to rebuilders and body shops. The current law requiring titling of previously salvage vehicles is repealed.

This act also revises chapter 304, RSMo, and the law pertaining to the towing of motor vehicles. Outboard motors and vessels may also be towed under these provisions.

PUBLIC AREAS - Vehicles, vessels and outboard motors may be towed when left on highways, when the operator is arrested, when left in violation of a law or ordinance, when obstructing water traffic, or when abandoned.

PRIVATE PROPERTY - Law officers and landowners may authorize the towing of vehicles, vessels and motors from private property in five circumstances: (1) a sign warning of towing has been placed; (2) a safety hazard has been created; (3) four days following a parking ticket; (4) the vehicle lacks major component parts; or (5) the property is unattended for at least 30 days. The person having the vehicle towed shall give notice, including the grounds for the removal to the registered owner.

DAMAGES - The owner of the property may recover for any damages. Towing companies are responsible for damages caused to the vehicle or for towing the wrong vehicle. Damages for wrongful towing are four times the cost. The property owner shall be liable for double damages for failure to comply with this law.

TOWING REQUIREMENTS - Any towing company shall have its name printed on the truck. Charges must be reduced by 1/2 if the vehicle or vessel owner returns before it is towed away. Storage facilities shall accept a valid credit card or cash for payment of towing and storage charges. If not, they are liable for four times the cost, up to $500. Towing companies shall not remove a vehicle without written authorization unless the vehicle is within 15 feet of a fire hydrant or fire lane.

POLICE REPORT - A law enforcement officer shall inspect each vehicle towed and shall report specified information to the Director of Revenue. Copies shall also be sent to towing companies and to real property owners who authorized a tow.

PAYMENT, LIEN, TITLE - The owner of the property is responsible for reasonable towing and storage charges. The towing company shall have a lien for the charges. Any personal property shall be released to the owner. Any towing company claiming a lien shall give notice to the title owner within 7 days. Both the Department of Revenue and then the towing company shall make any necessary checks to determine the owner.

The title owner of the property has 30 days to pay for the charges or request a hearing. If the charges are not paid, the towing company can apply for title. The act provides for the manner of enforcing the towing/storage lien and obtaining title.

The owner of the property may petition in court to determine if the abandoned property was wrongfully taken or withheld. The petition shall name the towing company but shall not name the Department of Revenue. No title shall be issued until the petition is decided. Bond can be posted by the petitioner to get release of the property.

CITY ORDINANCES - This act shall not apply in cities adopting similar ordinances, provided the ordinances provide the same protection for property owners' rights.

OBSTRUCTION OF TRAFFIC - The driver of any vehicle which obstructs the regular flow of traffic shall try to move it from the roadway. Violators shall be given warnings until August 26, 1997. Thereafter, violaters shall be guilty of an infraction and shall be fined from $10 - $50.

TOWING OF VEHICLES - Vehicles may be ordered towed from the right-of-way on interstate and state highways if they have been left unattended for a minimum amount of time: 12 hours on interstates in urban areas; 48 hours on interstates outside urban areas; 10 hours on state highways in urban areas; and 48 hours on state highways outside of urban areas. RONALD J. LEONE