In the State of Arizona, the rights and responsibilities of a towing company are outlined and regulated by the Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.). Political subdivisions of the State, such as counties and municipalities may also have additional regulations found in their codes and ordinances relating to the subject, but the heart of the law comes from the state; specifically, Title 28, Chapter 11. The provisions, beginning with A.R.S. § 28-4801 and running to § 28-4884, discuss the expectations and entitlements for towing companies and vehicle owners as they pertain to abandoned, seized, and junk vehicles.
Understanding the definitions and provisions codified in Title 28 is instrumental to ensuring your towing company is protected from claims against improper conduct or violation of common law causes of action such as conversion or trespass to chattel. Knowledge of the governing law is critical in order to comply with the statutory timelines and requirements for seeking title to an abandoned vehicle.
There are many intricacies to the process. For example, A.R.S. § 28-4838(A)(1) requires you to submit an abandoned vehicle transfer form to the MVD between the 10th and 15th day of being in possession of an abandoned vehicle, unless someone legally entitled to the vehicle makes a request for return of the vehicle. Besides acting during this prescribed window of time, comprehending who is legally entitled to the vehicle will dictate your actions.
Once the abandoned vehicle report has been submitted, another statute guides. Under A.R.S. § 28-4841, it is the MVD’s duty to notify the requisite parties of the status of the vehicle and the necessary steps to recover the same. The director shall notify all interested persons by mail within five days. Further, the director shall make the notice on a form prescribed by the director. Although the Department assumes the bulk of the responsibilities for the next 30 days, the party seeking title of the abandoned vehicle retains certain duties as well. Failure to ensure complete continued compliance could jeopardize the finalization of the requested transfer or create future legal issues for the towing company from parties who have standing to bring potential claims.
Recently, Rose Law Group represented a tow service who found themselves the subject of a lawsuit from the (former) owner of an abandoned vehicle. The owner claimed the towing company improperly took title to the abandoned vehicle, to the owner’s detriment. Because the towing company had, at the time the lawsuit was filed, already sold the vehicle in question the former owner sought damages for both the taking of the vehicle as well as disgorgement of the towing company’s proceeds from the sale of the vehicle.
Rose Law Group proved the towing company complied with Title 28, Chapter 11 and the former owner was not entitled to recover on his claims. Within a week of receiving the former owner’s Complaint, Rose Law Group convinced the former owner’s counsel to dismiss the Complaint in its entirety, successfully clearing the client from all allegations and keeping legal fees to a minimum.
If you or your business offers towing services and needs help to better understand and adhere to state and local laws, or if you find yourself in a legal conflict as a result of towing a vehicle, Rose Law Group’s team of experienced and qualified professionals is available to assist.
Adam M. Trenk, Esq. is a Partner at Rose Law Group pc (www.RoseLawGroup.com). He advises clients on matters of Strategic Development, Contracts, Conflict Resolution, and Government Relations. He served his community in Cave Creek as an Elected member of the Town Council from 2009 to 2011, and again as Vice Mayor 2013-2015. Adam has been working to add value to his Client’s Towing Operations in many ways, including Securing Government Contracts and Resolving Regulatory Matters. Adam Trenk can be contacted by email at ATrenk@RoseLawGroup.com or by phone at 602-402-3335.
Olen V. Lenets, Esq. is an Associate in the Litigation Department at Rose Law Group pc (www.RoseLawGroup.com). He advises clients in various litigation matters including landlord/tenant disputes, contract enforcement and civil torts. He also represents clients in criminal defense matters related to traffic and property crimes. Along with two Rose Law Group colleagues, Olen is a co-host of The Rose Report podcast. Olen has assisted the firm’s Client’s Towing Operations in a variety of capacities, including Advising on Regulatory Matters and Resolving Disputes. Olen Lenets can be contacted by email at olenets@RoseLawGroup.com or by phone at 480-694-2471.