Idaho Transportation Department
DMV HomeOn-Line ServicesNew to Idaho?Driver ServicesVehicle ServicesMotor Carrier Services / Ports of EntryDriver Licensing OfficesVehicle Licensing OfficesCounty WebsitesOther State DMV LinksInformation for Idaho Military PersonnelManualsLinksRecent LegislationIdaho Motor Vehicle LawsAdmin. RulesVoter RegistrationDMV Historytrucking.idaho.govContact Us
ABANDONED VEHICLE GUIDE
What is an abandoned vehicle?Vehicles are considered abandoned when they are left for twenty-four hours or longer within the limits of a highway, on property open to the public, or on private property without the property owner’s consent. This definition excludes instances when an owner or operator cannot remove a vehicle and has notified a law enforcement agency and requested assistance. Some examples of abandoned vehicles include unauthorized vehicles that have been left on:
How do I get a title to an abandoned vehicle that is not being sold by a law enforcement agency or an authorized* tow company?
Contact the last titled owner and ask them to provide and assign the title to you. If any liens are shown on the previous title, they must be released by the lienholder. If you purchase the vehicle from the titled owner, be sure to get a dated bill of sale for sales tax purposes. The bill of sale must contain the following information:
* “Authorized” tow company means any tow company that (1) has towed the vehicle off of posted real property, or (2) has received authorization from a law enforcement agency to dispose of an abandoned vehicle that was towed under their direction.
How do I find out who is the last titled owner of a vehicle?For vehicles licensed and titled in Idaho, obtain the vehicle’s identification number (VIN), usually located on the driver’s door striker post or on the dash, and request a title record from your county DMV office. To do so, you must claim an exemption under the Driver Privacy Protection Act to qualify to receive this personal information. Many people in similar situations claim the Public Safety/Vehicle Operation exemption, but the responsibility for this decision is yours. The record will list the name and address of the last titled owner. The fee for this service is $7.00.
If the vehicle has a license plate from another state, you must contact that state’s DMV office for owner information. To obtain the address and phone number for another state’s DMV, contact your local county DMV office or the Idaho Transportation Department’s (ITD) Vehicle Services Section at (208) 334-8663.
What if the previous owner has lost the title?The owner of record may apply for a duplicate title at any county DMV office. If the owner does not wish to take the time to apply for the title personally, ask him or her to sign a power of attorney form and have it notarized. This form will authorize you to sign a duplicate application and all necessary title documents on the owner’s behalf. Blank power of attorney forms are available at any county DMV office, or can be downloaded from (dmv.idaho.gov).
What if the last titled owner refuses to provide me with a title?In this case, if the vehicle has been abandoned on your property, you may want to contact the small claims court to see if it is feasible to bring action against the owner for storage charges. This may be possible if the charges due are under $4,000. Check to see if the small claims court in your county will award judgments for vehicles. If they do and the value of the vehicle is under $4,000, attempt to obtain a judgment awarding you the vehicle. If not, you may try to get a monetary judgment.
If you bring legal action against the owner and are awarded a monetary judgment, you should request that the defendant (owner) pay the judgment. If it is too late to appeal the judgment and the defendant refuses to pay, contact the court clerk about obtaining a writ of execution. Forward the writ of execution to the Sheriff’s office along with a copy of the DMV record and a letter from you informing the Sheriff that this vehicle is available to be seized.
The sheriff may then seize the vehicle and perform a sale to satisfy the judgment. You may enter a credit bid at the sale if you wish to gain title to the vehicle. If the vehicle is sold to someone else, the proceeds of the sale will be paid to you up to the amount of your judgment.
What if I can’t locate the last titled owner or the last owner is unknown?If the vehicle was left on your property, you may wish to contact an attorney to file action in court. The attorney will let you know if you can attempt to quiet title (file court action to obtain judgment awarding the vehicle to you).
If someone other than a law enforcement agency or an authorized tow company is selling an abandoned vehicle, what documents must the seller provide?The seller must provide a title issued in the seller’s name that has been signed over to you and a bill of sale for sales tax purposes. If the seller cannot provide you with a title in the seller’s name, do not purchase the vehicle.
If I purchase a vehicle from a law enforcement agency or authorized tow company at an abandoned vehicle sale, what must I do to get a title in my name?If a law enforcement agency is conducting the sale, that agency should provide you with:
Who do I contact to have a vehicle removed from my property?Who you contact depends on whether or not your property is properly posted. You have proper posting if you have a sign or notice that:
If your property is not posted as described, you should contact your local law enforcement agency and report the vehicle as abandoned. If the vehicle is within city limits, contact the city police department, otherwise contact your local county sheriff’s office.
Law enforcement should send an officer to tag the vehicle, and will attempt to contact the vehicle owner by telephone. If the vehicle has not been removed within 48 hours, the agency should instruct a tow company to remove the vehicle.
Do I always have to wait 48 hours to have a vehicle removed if my property is not posted?No. A law enforcement agency may immediately have a vehicle towed if it is blocking your driveway or is substantially interfering with the use and enjoyment of your property. Do not call a tow company yourself. If you do, you could be required to pay the towing and storage charges.
Are there any other circumstances where a vehicle can be towed immediately?Yes. Law enforcement agencies may have a vehicle towed in any situation where the vehicle:
SHERIFF’S SALES AND IMPOUNDED VEHICLE SALES
If I purchase a vehicle at a sheriff’s sale or an impounded vehicle sale, what must I do to get a title in my name?Take the following documents to your county DMV office:
POSSESSORY or MECHANIC’S LIENS
How do I get title to a vehicle that was left in my repair shop or storage facility, or was left in my tow yard following an owner requested tow?First, try to contact the last titled owner to have the title assigned to you. If any liens are shown on the previous title, they must be released by the lienholder or every subsequent title will carry the lien forward. Also be sure to get a bill of sale from the owner.
What if I cannot find the last titled owner, or he is unwilling to assign the title to me?You may still proceed with a lien sale under Section 45-805, Idaho Code, if:
When someone buys a vehicle at my lien sale, what paperwork does the buyer need from me to apply for title to the vehicle?
What if I, as the possessory lienholder, want title to the vehicle that is being sold at a lien sale?To obtain ownership of the vehicle, you must be the highest bidder at the lien sale. You must apply for title with the same documents you would have given to a buyer at the lien sale.
Is there another lien sale procedure that I may use to sell a vehicle?Yes. You may apply for a lien sale under Title 49, Chapter 17, Idaho Code, if you have a dated work order that:
If I have a signed work order or storage agreement meeting the above requirements, how do I apply for a lien sale?You must request and complete an application for authorization to conduct a lien sale and pay the $10.00 fee. The application form ITD-3750 can be obtained by contacting:
Idaho Transportation Department
P.O. Box 7129
Boise, ID 83707-1129
Phone: (208) 334-8663
What happens after I send in my fee and application for authorization to conduct a lien sale?The Idaho Transportation Department will send notice of your application for authorization to conduct a lien sale to any registered/titled owner(s) of record, lienholder(s) of record, and any other interested parties. These parties will have ten days to file a declaration of opposition. If the department does not receive a declaration of opposition within the given time, you will be sent a letter authorizing you to conduct a lien sale and explaining the next steps you will need to take. If a declaration of opposition is received within the ten days, you will be advised that you cannot conduct a lien sale unless you receive a judgment in court or obtain a release from the registered/titled owner of record and any lienholders.
What must I do after I receive an authorization to conduct a lien sale?If the authorization form indicates there is a lien recorded on the current title record, you should contact the lienholder to obtain a lien release. If the lien is still in effect, you may need to negotiate with the lienholder for a release.
Once you have obtained the release, you should determine your sale date. Then, you must provide twenty days notice of sale by certified mail to all registered/titled owners of record and lienholders of record, and to any other interested parties that may have been listed on your application to conduct a lien sale.
You will also be required to advertise once, ten days in advance, in the legal section of a newspaper published in the county where the vehicle is located. You must also make the vehicle available for public inspection at least one hour prior to the sale in a location easily accessible to the public. If the vehicle is not claimed prior to sale time, you may sell the vehicle in a commercially reasonable manner (sealed bids are not acceptable).
Title document requirements are the same as for the other lien sale procedures, except you must also submit the authorization from the Idaho Transportation Department to conduct the lien sale (form ITD-3753).
What if I am unable to get a lien release from any lienholder of record?A lien release is not required if:
WARNING:If the recorded lien is LESS than ten years old or if you have obtained information showing that the lien is still active, you should NOT proceed with the lien sale until you are able to obtain a lien release.