Dealing With an Abandoned Vehicle

Abandoned Vehicle imageWe live in a rural area and came home to find an abandoned vehicle on the road near but not obstructing our driveway. It appears to have broken down.

It's been a number of days now and the vehicle is still there waiting to be retrieved by its owners.

What is the proper process for reporting an abandoned vehicle if in fact no one does come for it and if they don't, what would be the suggested route to follow in having it removed?

Tell Police About an Abandoned Vehicle

Whenever you find a suspicious vehicle in your neighbourhood report it to the police. All that is required is the licence plate number or failing that the vehicle identification number, where the vehicle is and how long it has been there.

Of course, if you can provide more information I am sure that it will be welcomed as well. Many stolen vehicles are recovered in this fashion.

If you are curious, you can check the VIN yourself to see if the vehicle has been reported stolen or not.

Rural Areas

When the vehicle has been left on your rural property for more than 72 hours the Motor Vehicle Act deems that the owner has given you permission to tow the vehicle and have it stored.

When you act in this capacity as the owner's agent you have a lien under the Warehouse Lien Act against the vehicle for expenses advanced or incurred.

Inside Municipalities

When you live inside a municipality and someone parks on your property without permission, you may have it removed immediately.

If the owner fails to retrieve the vehicle, the towing company has to deal with the lien to dispose of the vehicle and pay the fees. They may be reluctant to do this unless the vehicle has some value.

If you do use this method to remove an unwanted vehicle, it would be wise to inform police of your actions to prevent any misunderstanding. Also, many towing companies will refuse to move the vehicle unless the police are notified first.

Abandoned for More Than 72 Hours

If the vehicle has been left on a highway for more than 72 hours the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) may choose to remove it and the person responsible for abandoning it may be required to pay the expense of removal.

In the absence of proof to the contrary, the registered owner of the vehicle is considered to be the person who abandoned it. This is another excellent reason for properly documenting the sale of your vehicle.

Immediate Removal of an Abandoned Vehicle

Both the Motor Vehicle Act and the Transportation Act give the minister and the police the authority to immediately remove a vehicle from the highway if it will interfere with or cause inconvenience to other highway users.

MOTI Protocol

The MOTI has published a 6 page guide stating the protocol to be followed for the removal of abandoned vehicles. Although it refers to the Highway Scenic Improvement Act which was repealed on December 31, 2004, it still identifies the responsibilities of the MOTI, the RCMP and the road maintenance contractor.

Report All Poachers and Pollutors

The Report All Poachers and Pollutors (RAPP) program with the Conservation Officers Service has an on line reporting form that may be used for abandoned vehicles.

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What are the laws around vehicles that are left parked on the land in between the foreshore/beach and roadways (not private property)? People will often leave cars for days or weeks or indefinitely.

The more I asked about this the hazier it became. It appears that it is either the Ministry of Transportation via the road maintenance contractor or the regional district if the vehicle is not left on private property. The lady from the regional district did raise a good point, which was that land that looks public many not be. It may belong to a forest company or other organization.

When in doubt, call the police. They have a stake in making sure that the vehicle is not stolen or otherwise of interest.

Have lived in the same house now for forty five years.  We have a road with now exit and quite a few times over the years there’s been an abandoned vehicle or stolen vehicle left on the road. I just phone the police with the license plate number and short description of the vehicle.

With no occupants around I phone it in soon as I see it, don’t bother waiting because we are out in a rural area. In most cases it was a stolen unit.