Q. What is legally required of city officials/ police officers when reporting an abandoned vehicle on public property? Where does the notice have to be placed and does it need to be clearly visible?
A. All of this is governed by W.S. 31-13-104, specifically subsections c and f below. The City of Laramie Police Department uses the neon green stickers, which are normally affixed to the driver side window. On other vehicles, such as trailers, we may have to get creative, however, per statute it must be in a “prominent” position.
(c) Any police officer who has reasonable grounds to believe that a vehicle has been abandoned may remove the vehicle, or cause it to be removed, at the expense of the owner to a place of impoundment designated by the county commissioners of the county in which the vehicle is impounded. Removal of an abandoned vehicle from private property by a police officer shall be upon the written request, upon a form prescribed by the department, of the owner or person in lawful possession or control of the property. The police department having jurisdiction shall immediately send a written report of the removal by a police officer to the sheriff of the county in which the vehicle is impounded, which report shall include a description of the vehicle, the date, time and place of removal, the grounds for removal, and place of impoundment of the vehicle. The sheriff of the county in which the vehicle is impounded shall submit the report provided by the police department to the department with a determination of the fair market value of the vehicle as required in this subsection. Upon receipt of a report as provided, the department shall provide written notification to the vehicle owner of record and to lienholders of record, stating the grounds for removal by a police officer and the name of the place of impoundment of the vehicle. Notice shall not be required if the fair market value of an abandoned vehicle removed by a police officer is less than two thousand dollars ($2,000.00) as determined by the sheriff of the county in which the vehicle is impounded. As to vehicles not registered in this state, the department shall make a reasonable effort to notify the owner or any lienholder of removal by a police officer and the place of impoundment of the vehicle. The department shall forward a copy of the notice to the owner or person in charge of the place of impoundment of a vehicle removed by a police officer. As used in this subsection, “abandoned vehicle” means as defined in W.S. 31-13-101(a)(x)(A) and (B).
(f) A notice of intent to impound an abandoned vehicle by a police officer shall be placed in a prominent position on a vehicle when a police officer reasonably believes it is abandoned. The notice of intent shall remain on the vehicle at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to removal if abandoned on a highway and five (5) days if abandoned on public or private property and impounded by a police officer.