Assemblyman GILBERT "WHIP" L. WILSON
District 5 (Camden and Gloucester)
Authorizes impoundment of motor vehicles for certain crimes and offenses.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning impoundment of certain motor vehicles and supplementing Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. a. Any law enforcement agency is authorized to impound:
(1) a motor vehicle in which a violation of subsection a., d., or f. of N.J.S.2C:39-5 was committed;
(2) a motor vehicle in which possession of a handgun, rifle, or shotgun for an unlawful purpose in violation of N.J.S.2C:39-4 was committed;
(3) a motor vehicle in which a violation of subsections b. or c. of N.J.S.2C:39-5 was committed in addition to the motor vehicle being used to commit a separate crime of the first, second, third or fourth degree under Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes;
(4) a motor vehicle which was used in the commission of any offense under subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:34-1; and
(5) a motor vehicle which was used in the commission of an offense under subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:35-10 or subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:35-5.
b. A law enforcement agency impounding a vehicle pursuant to this section is authorized to charge a reasonable administrative fee in addition to the fees charged for the towing and storage of the impounded vehicle. The law enforcement agency is further authorized to retain custody of the vehicle until the fees are paid. All administrative fees and towing and storage fees shall be imposed on the registered owner of the motor vehicle. The registered owner shall be entitled to a hearing, upon request.
The administrative fees shall be collected by and paid to the municipality imposing the fees. The towing and storage fees shall be collected by and paid to the person or entity that tows and stores the impounded vehicle.
c. The registered owner of the vehicle shall be provided notice of the impoundment and of the right to request a hearing.
d. If the owner-lessor or registered owner of an impounded vehicle fails to claim the impounded vehicle by midnight of the 90th day following the day on which the vehicle was impounded, that vehicle may be sold at auction; provided however, a vehicle shall not be sold until the lessee or registered owner has been convicted of the offense, or offenses pursuant to paragraph (3) of subsection a., for which the vehicle was impounded under subsection a. of this section. Property impounded under this section shall not be sold if the owner of the property establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the owner was not involved in or aware of the unlawful activity and that the owner had done all that could reasonably be expected to prevent the proscribed use of the property by an agent. A person who uses or possesses property with the consent or knowledge of the owner is deemed to be the agent of the owner for purposes of this subsection.
Notice of the sale shall be given by the impounding entity by certified mail to the owner of the vehicle, if the owner's name and address are known, and to the lienholder, if the lienholder's name and address are known, and by publication in a form prescribed by the chief administrator by one insertion, at least five days before the date of the sale, in one or more newspapers published in this State and circulating in the municipality in which the vehicle is impounded.
At any time prior to the sale of an impounded vehicle, the owner or other person entitled to the vehicle may reclaim possession upon showing proof of registration and insurance and paying all costs associated with the impoundment, and reasonable towing and storage fees and administrative fees.
The owner-lessor of an impounded vehicle shall be entitled to reclaim possession without payment or proof of insurance and the lessee shall be liable for all outstanding costs associated with the impoundment, towing, and storage of the vehicle and the administrative fees.
e. Any proceeds obtained from the sale of a vehicle at public auction pursuant to subsection d. of this section in excess of the amount owed for the administrative fees, towing and storage fees and any other costs associated with the impoundment of the vehicle shall be returned to the owner of that vehicle, if his name and address are known.
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
The bill permits law enforcement agencies to impound motor vehicles for certain crimes and offenses.
A law enforcement agency may impound a motor vehicle under the bill if: 1) a machine gun, assault weapon, or other weapon was unlawfully possessed in the motor vehicle, 2) a handgun, rifle, or shotgun was possessed for an unlawful purpose in violation of N.J.S.2C:39-4, 3)if a rifle, shot gun, or handgun was possessed in violation of subsection b. or c. of N.J.S.2C:39-5 and the motor vehicle was used to commit a separate crime of the first through fourth degree under Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, 4) the motor vehicle was used in the commission of prostitution, or 5) the vehicle was used in the commission of buying or selling a controlled dangerous substance.
The bill also permits a law enforcement agency to impose a reasonable administrative fee for a violation, which would be in addition to the costs for towing and storage of the vehicle. The fees would be imposed on the registered owner of the vehicle and a law enforcement agency may retain custody of the vehicle until the fees are paid.
In addition, the bill provides that the registered owner is entitled to a hearing, upon request. The bill requires that the registered owner of the vehicle be notified of the impoundment and of his or her right to a hearing.
Lastly, the bill allows the vehicle to be sold at auction if the owner does not claim the vehicle within 90 days of impoundment and establishes a procedure for this process. The owner or other person entitled to the vehicle may reclaim possession at any time prior to the auction upon proof of registration and insurance and the payment of all impoundment costs, reasonable towing and storage fees, and administrative fees. An owner-lessor would not be not be required to show proof of insurance or pay the costs and fees.