What is Vehicle Abatement?

Felicia Dye
Felicia Dye
Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

Vehicle abatement refers to programs that are designed to remove abandoned cars. The programs are often government-funded, but private companies are often included in the process. For example, in Sacramento, California, processing abated vehicles is a task handled by Code Enforcement. This department may, however, enlist the assistance of private tow companies to complete the task.

Vehicle abatement is not the same as traffic enforcement, although towing can occur in both situations. When traffic violations occur, vehicles may be towed away, but it is generally understood that the owner still wants her vehicle. Vehicle abatement, however, is a process that aims to remove and dispose of vehicles that appear to be unwanted.

Law officials are often responsible for starting the vehicle abatement process. A police officer, for example, may notice that a car on his beat has not been moved for an extended period of time. The program is also facilitated by citizen generated leads. In these instances, people may inform the appropriate authorities that there is a vehicle that may be abandoned.

Authorities generally will not consider vehicle abatement if the vehicle does not violate certain codes. This requirement generally prevents authorities from being responsible for towing away vehicles that are resting on private property. Even if an automobile is eligible for vehicle abatement, several other steps are generally taken before it is removed.

It is common procedure for officials to do what they can to ensure that the vehicle was not stolen and discarded. They generally also use the vehicle identification number (VIN) or license plates to determine who the owner of the vehicle is. If there are still strong beliefs that the vehicle has been abandoned, it is likely to be tagged for removal.

Tagging a vehicle usually means that some type of indicator is placed on the vehicle that signifies that it will be removed. The vehicle is then left for certain period, allowing the owner time to claim it if it has not been abandoned. After this grace period ends, if the vehicle has not been moved, it is normally towed away.

The party that removes the vehicle generally has the authority to discard it at a scrap yard or to have it dismantled. Although this could happen immediately, there are chances that it may not. In some cases, an owner does not disclose that a vehicle was not abandoned until after it has been moved. If the vehicle is still in a desirable condition, it is often possible for the owner to get it back.

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