An abandoned car can be an unsafe eyesore.

Virginia Speeds Up Removal of Abandoned Vehicles

The $25 records request using a searchable database will help law enforcement and others find the owners or lienholders of junkers left on their property.

Beginning Thursday, removing abandoned vehicles from public or private property in Virginia will be easier and faster, thanks to a new law that automates the state Department of Motor Vehicles' abandoned vehicle process. Those in possession of an abandoned vehicle can remove it and begin a records request on to find the vehicle's owner or lienholder. The process costs $25.

If a Virginia vehicle owner or lienholder is found, DMV will send a certified letter advising that party to remove the vehicle from the property. If the vehicle is not claimed after 15 days (120 days for manufactured homes), the person in possession of the abandoned vehicle uses DMV's online process again to post an intent to auction the vehicle. The intent to auction must remain posted for 21 days before auctioning, titling, or demolishing the vehicle. But if no vehicle owner is located during the initial records request, the vehicle may be demolished without posting an intent to auction it, according to DMV's posted information about the law.

A searchable database of identified abandoned vehicles will be available on DMV's site after Oct. 1. And effective that day, Virginia law defines an abandoned vehicle as any motor vehicle, trailer or semi trailer or parts of a motor vehicle, trailer, or semi trailer that:

  • is left unattended on public property for more than 48 hours in violation of a state law or local ordinance, or
  • has remained for more that 48 hours on private property without the consent of the property's owner, regardless of whether it was brought onto the private property with the consent of the owner or person in control of the private property
  • is left unattended on the shoulder of a primary highway
  • has remained unclaimed in a garage for more than 10 days or for more than 10 days beyond the period the vehicle was to remain on the premises, or
  • has remained unclaimed in a self-service storage unit under the provisions of Chapter 23 of Virginia state code 55-418.

The state DMV wants to increase online use of its services. The department announced recently that six more of its customer service centers would not longer open on Saturdays; 12 of the 74 offices already operated on weekdays only. "Through an analysis, we learned that, at many locations, we can better utilize our existing staff by closing on Saturdays and putting more staff at the front counter on weekdays," said DMV Commissioner D.B. Smit. "We can recognize a cost savings by not filling vacant positions at these offices and closing on Saturdays. This change is part of DMV's goal to provide excellent customer service while keeping a check on spending during these tough economic times." They agency said customers can complete 25 different transactions at

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