A. Any person in possession of an abandoned motor vehicle shall initiate with the Department, in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner, a search for the owner and/or lienholder of record of the vehicle, requesting the name and address of the owner of record of the motor vehicle and all persons having security interests in the motor vehicle on record in the office of the Department, describing, if ascertainable, the motor vehicle by year, make, model, and vehicle identification number. A fee of $ 25 shall be paid to the Department at the time of application. Those fees shall be paid into the state treasury and set aside as a special, nonreverting fund to be used to meet the expenses of the Department. A local government agency with a written agreement with the Department shall be exempt from this fee.The Department shall check: (i) its own records, (ii) the records of a nationally recognized crime database, and (iii) records of a nationally recognized motor vehicle title database for owner and lienholder information. If a vehicle has been reported as stolen, the Department shall notify the appropriate law-enforcement agency of that fact. If a vehicle has been found to have been titled in another jurisdiction, the Department shall notify the applicant of that jurisdiction. In cases of motor vehicles titled in other jurisdictions, the Commissioner shall issue certificates of title on proof satisfactory to the Commissioner that the persons required to be notified by registered or certified mail have received actual notice fully containing the information required by this section.
B. If the Department confirms owner or lienholder information, the Department shall notify the owner, at the last known address of record, and lienholder, at the last known address of record, of the notice of interest in their vehicle, by certified mail, return receipt requested, and advise them to reclaim and remove the vehicle within 15 days, or, if the vehicle is a manufactured home or a mobile home, 120 days, from the date of notice. Such notice, when sent in accordance with these requirements, shall be sufficient regardless of whether or not it was ever received. Following the notice required in this subsection, if the motor vehicle remains unclaimed, the owner and all persons having security interests in the motor vehicle shall have waived all right, title, and interest in the motor vehicle.Whenever a vehicle is shown by the Department’s records to be owned by a person who has indicated that he is on active military duty or service, the Department shall notify the requestor of such information. Any person having an interest in such vehicle under the provisions of this article shall comply with the provisions of the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. § 3901 et seq.).
C. If records of the Department contain no address for the owner or no address of any person shown by the Department’s records to have a security interest, or if the identity and addresses of the owner and all persons having security interests cannot be determined with reasonable certainty, the person in possession of the abandoned motor vehicle shall obtain from the Department in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner, a Vehicle Removal Certificate. The vehicle may be sold or transferred to a licensee or a scrap metal processor, as defined in § 46.2-1600.
1968, c. 421, § 46.1-555.4; 1989, c. 727; 1997, c. 150; 2009, c. 664.