1997 Regular Session
By: Representative Bozeman
House Bill 907
AN ACT TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 85-7-109, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE A STATUTORY LIEN FOR THE TOWING AND STORAGE OF MOTOR VEHICLES; TO AMEND SECTION 85-7-251, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The following shall be codified as Section 85-7-109, Mississippi Code of 1972:
85-7-109. The owner of a motor vehicle towed from a wreck scene at the request of the owner or towed as an abandoned vehicle at the direction of a law enforcement officer shall be liable for the price of the towing and storage of such vehicle; and the wrecker service to whom the price of such labor and storage costs may be due shall have the right to retain possession of such motor vehicle so towed and stored until the price be paid. The wrecker service shall contact the owner of the vehicle within seven (7) working days by certified mail to inform the owner where the vehicle is stored. If such price of labor and storage shall not be paid within thirty (30) days, and the person to whom such charges are payable and owing intends to commence suit as provided in this section, such person shall notify, by certified mail, the legal owner and the holder of any lien of the amount of charges due thereon and provide an opportunity for redemption. If such property has not been redeemed within five (5) days after the mailing of such certified letter regarding the commencement of the suit, the person to whom such charges are payable and owing may commence suit in any court of competent jurisdiction, and upon proof of the value of the labor and storage costs employed in such towing and storage, and that such labor and storage costs furnished were reasonably necessary to prevent deterioration, permit operation and preserve the property, shall be entitled to judgment against the party for whom such labor was done or storage furnished, with costs, as in other cases, and to a special order for the sale of the property retained in his possession for the payment thereof, with costs, and to an execution, as in other cases, for the residue of what remains unpaid after sale of the property. The proceeds of the sale of such property in excess of the amount needed to pay the judgment and necessary expenses of the procedure required by this section shall be held by the person for a period of six (6) months, and if not reclaimed by the owner thereof within that time shall become the property of the county and be paid over to the chancery clerk of the county in which the sale was held to be deposited into the county general fund, subject however to any rights of recorded lienholders.
SECTION 2. Section 85-7-251, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
85-7-251. (1) Except as provided by Section 85-7-109, the owner of a motor vehicle that has been towed at his request or at the direction of a law enforcement officer, or towed upon request of a real property owner upon whose property a vehicle has been left without permission of the real property owner for more than five (5) days, shall be liable for the reasonable price of towing and storage of such vehicle; and the towing company to whom the price of such labor and storage costs may be due shall have the right to retain possession of such motor vehicle until the price is paid.
(2) Within twenty-four (24) hours, the towing company shall report to the local law enforcement agency having jurisdiction any vehicle that has been towed unless the vehicle was towed at the request of the owner of the vehicle. If the owner of a towed vehicle has not contacted the towing company within five (5) business days of the initial tow, the towing company shall obtain from the appropriate authority the names and addresses of any owner and lienholder. If the information from the appropriate authority fails to disclose the owner or lienholder, a good faith effort shall be made by the towing company to locate ownership, including a check for tag information, inspection sticker, or any papers in the vehicle that may indicate ownership. Upon location of the owner and lienholder, the towing company shall notify them by registered mail of the amount due for towing, postmarked no later than the tenth day following the initial tow. If such amount shall not be paid within thirty (30) days from the initial tow, the towing company to whom such charges are payable shall notify by certified mail any legal owner and holder of any lien, as disclosed by the motor vehicle title records or other investigation, of notice of sale of the property. If such property has not been redeemed within ten (10) days after the mailing of the certified letter, the towing company may commence sale of the property at public auction. The towing company shall publish for two (2) consecutive weeks a notice of sale in the newspaper having circulation in the county where the vehicle was initially towed. The proceeds of the sale of such property in excess of the amount needed to pay the towing, reasonable storage and necessary expenses of the procedures required by this section shall be held by the towing company for a period of six (6) months, and, if not reclaimed by the owner thereof within such time, shall become the property of the county and be paid to the chancery clerk of the county in which the sale was held to be deposited into the county general fund, subject, however, to any rights of the recorded lienholder.
(3) The failure to make a good faith effort to comply with the requirements of this section shall preclude the imposition of any storage charges or towing charges against the towed vehicle.
(4) Every towing company shall maintain accurate records for a period of three (3) years, which records shall identify the vehicles it has towed and stored and all procedures that it has taken to comply with the provisions of this chapter.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.