The Indiana State Police remind motorists of Indiana's abandoned vehicle law which changed July 1, 2009. When troopers locate an unattended motor vehicle on interstates, U.S. highways, state highways, county roads or city streets the trooper will place an orange tag on the unoccupied vehicle. The tag contains the license plate number of the vehicle, the date and time the tag was placed on the vehicle. The trooper will also notify the affected state police district of the vehicle description and road the vehicle was abandoned on. That information will be documented by the district.
Many times a vehicle may be abandoned or left unattended because of mechanical problems. During hunting season, troopers see an increase of unattended vehicles parked on the public road right-of-way. The trooper can only assume the vehicle is abandoned and follows the procedures as previously stated. In all cases, the trooper checks the vehicle for occupants, particularly in the winter.
Hunters should park their vehicle on private property, with the property owner's permission. The law requires that abandoned vehicles located on public roads be removed within 24 hours, and 48 hours on private property without the consent of the property owner. Additionally, if a vehicle is located on a roadway in such a manner that constitutes a hazard or obstruction to the movement of pedestrian or vehicular traffic on a public right-of-way, the vehicle will be removed immediately. There are other situations that a vehicle will be removed such as, expired or no registration plates, or the vehicle is reported stolen and abandoned.
If the vehicle is not removed, the law requires a law enforcement officer to have the vehicle towed. This will be at the vehicle owner's expense. The following are the Indiana laws that apply to abandoned vehicles:
Sec. 1. "Abandoned vehicle" means the following:
(1) A vehicle located on public property illegally.
(2) A vehicle left on public property without being moved for twenty-four (24) hours.
(3) A vehicle located on public property in such a manner as to constitute a hazard or obstruction to the movement of pedestrian or vehicular traffic on a public right-of-way.
(4) A vehicle that has remained on private property without the consent of the owner or person in control of that property for more than forty-eight (48) hours.
(5) A vehicle from which the engine, transmission, or differential has been removed or that is otherwise partially dismantled or inoperable and left on public property.
(6) A vehicle that has been removed by a towing service or public agency upon request of an officer enforcing a statute or an ordinance other than this chapter if the impounded vehicle is not claimed or redeemed by the owner or the owner's agent within twenty (20) days after the vehicle's removal.
(7) A vehicle that is at least three (3) model years old, is mechanically inoperable, and is left on private property continuously in a location visible from public property for more than twenty (20) days. For purposes of this subdivision, a vehicle covered by a tarpaulin or other plastic, vinyl, rubber, cloth, or textile covering is considered to be visible.
Removal of vehicle from traveled portion of highway
Sec. 3. Whenever a police officer finds a vehicle standing upon a highway in violation of this chapter, the officer may require the person driving the vehicle or other person in charge of the vehicle to move the vehicle to a position off the paved, improved, or main traveled part of the highway. If:
(1) a person directed by an officer fails or refuses to move the vehicle; or
(2) the vehicle is unattended;
the officer may provide for the removal of the vehicle to the nearest available garage or other place of safety.
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