Civil Code Section 3068.1

3068.1.  (a) (1) Every person has a lien dependent upon possession for the compensation to which the person is legally entitled for towing, storage, or labor associated with recovery or load salvage of any vehicle subject to registration that has been authorized to be removed by a public agency, a private property owner pursuant to Section 22658 of the Vehicle Code, or a lessee, operator, or registered owner of the vehicle. The lien is deemed to arise on the date of possession of the vehicle. Possession is deemed to arise when the vehicle is removed and is in transit, or when vehicle recovery operations or load salvage operations have begun. A person seeking to enforce a lien for the storage and safekeeping of a vehicle shall impose no charge exceeding that for one day of storage if, 24 hours or less after the vehicle is placed in storage, the vehicle is released. If the release is made more than 24 hours after the vehicle is placed in storage, charges may be imposed on a full-calendar-day basis for each day, or part thereof, that the vehicle is in storage. If a request to release the vehicle is made and the appropriate fees are tendered and documentation establishing that the person requesting release is entitled to possession of the vehicle, or is the owner’s insurance representative, is presented within the initial 24 hours of storage, and the storage facility fails to comply with the request to release the vehicle or is not open for business during normal business hours, then only one day’s charge may be required to be paid until after the first business day. A “business day” is any day in which the lienholder is open for business to the public for at least eight hours. If the request is made more than 24 hours after the vehicle is placed in storage, charges may be imposed on a full-calendar-day basis for each day, or part thereof, that the vehicle is in storage.

(2) “Documentation” that would entitle a person to possession of the vehicle includes, but is not limited to, a certificate of ownership, vehicle registration, information in the possession of the lienholder including ownership information obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicles or a facially valid registration found within the vehicle, or a notarized letter or statement from the legal or registered owner providing authorization to release to a particular person with a government-issued photographic identification card. Documentation that establishes that a person is the owner’s insurance representative includes, but is not limited to, a faxed letter or other letter from the owner’s insurance company. A lienholder is not responsible for determining the authenticity of documentation specifically described in this subdivision that establishes either a person’s entitlement to possession or that a person is the owner’s insurance representative.

(b) If the vehicle has been determined to have a value not exceeding four thousand dollars ($4,000), the lien shall be satisfied pursuant to Section 3072. Lien sale proceedings pursuant to Section 3072 shall commence within 15 days of the date the lien arises. No storage shall accrue beyond the 15-day period unless lien sale proceedings pursuant to Section 3072 have commenced. The storage lien may be for a period not exceeding 60 days if a completed notice of a pending lien sale form has been filed pursuant to Section 3072 within 15 days after the lien arises. Notwithstanding this 60-day limitation, the storage lien may be for a period not exceeding 120 days if any one of the following occurs:

(1) A Declaration of Opposition form is filed with the department pursuant to Section 3072.

(2) The vehicle has an out-of-state registration.

(3) The vehicle identification number was altered or removed.

(4) A person who has an interest in the vehicle becomes known to the lienholder after the lienholder has complied with subdivision (b) of Section 3072.

(c) If the vehicle has been determined to have a value exceeding four thousand dollars ($4,000) pursuant to Section 22670 of the Vehicle Code, the lien shall be satisfied pursuant to Section 3071. The storage lien may be for a period not exceeding 120 days if an application for an authorization to conduct a lien sale has been filed pursuant to Section 3071.

(d) (1) Any lien under this section shall be extinguished, and a lien sale shall not be conducted, if any one of the following occurs:

(A) The lienholder, after written demand to inspect the vehicle made by either personal service or certified mail with return receipt requested by the legal owner or the lessor, fails to permit the inspection by the legal owner or lessor, or his or her agent, within a period of time of at least 24 hours, but not to exceed 72 hours, after the receipt of that written demand, during the normal business hours of the lienholder. The legal owner or lessor shall comply with inspection and vehicle release policies of the impounding public agency.

(B) The amount claimed for storage exceeds the posted rates.

(2) “Agent” includes, but is not limited to, any person designated to inspect the vehicle by the request of the legal owner or lessor, in writing or by telephone, to the lienholder. A lienholder is not responsible for determining the authenticity of documentation establishing a person’s agency for the purposes of inspection of a vehicle.

(e) A lienholder shall not be liable for any claim or dispute directly arising out of the reliance on documentation specifically described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) for purposes of releasing a vehicle.

(Amended Sec. 1, Ch. 566, Stats. 2010. Effective January 1, 2011.)