Civil Code Section 3071

3071.  (a) A lienholder shall apply to the department for the issuance of an authorization to conduct a lien sale pursuant to this section for any vehicle with a value determined to be over four thousand dollars ($4,000). A filing fee shall be charged by the department and may be recovered by the lienholder if a lien sale is conducted or if the vehicle is redeemed. The application shall be executed under penalty of perjury and shall include all of the following information:

(1) A description of the vehicle, including make, year model, identification number, license number, and state of registration. For motorcycles, the engine number also shall be included. If the vehicle identification number is not available, the department shall request an inspection of the vehicle by a peace officer, licensed vehicle verifier, or departmental employee before accepting the application.

(2) The names and addresses of the registered and legal owners of the vehicle, if ascertainable from the registration certificates within the vehicle, and the name and address of any person whom the lienholder knows, or reasonably should know, claims an interest in the vehicle.

(3) A statement of the amount of the lien and the facts that give rise to the lien.

(b) Upon receipt of an application made pursuant to subdivision (a), the department shall do all of the following:

(1) Notify the vehicle registry agency of a foreign state of the pending lien sale, if the vehicle bears indicia of registration in that state.

(2) By certified mail, send a notice, a copy of the application, and a return envelope preaddressed to the department to the registered and legal owners at their addresses of record with the department, and to any other person whose name and address is listed in the application.

(c) The notice required pursuant to subdivision (b) shall include all of the following statements and information:

(1) An application has been made with the department for authorization to conduct a lien sale.

(2) The person has a right to a hearing in court.

(3) If a hearing in court is desired, a Declaration of Opposition form, signed under penalty of perjury, shall be signed and returned to the department within 10 days of the date that the notice required pursuant to subdivision (b) was mailed.

(4) If the Declaration of Opposition form is signed and returned to the department, the lienholder shall be allowed to sell the vehicle only if he or she obtains a court judgment, if he or she obtains a subsequent release from the declarant or if the declarant, cannot be served as described in subdivision (e).

(5) If a court action is filed, the declarant shall be notified of the lawsuit at the address shown on the Declaration of Opposition form and may appear to contest the claim.

(6) The person may be liable for court costs if a judgment is entered in favor of the lienholder.

(d) If the department receives the Declaration of Opposition form in the time specified, the department shall notify the lienholder within 16 days of the receipt of the form that a lien sale shall not be conducted unless the lienholder files an action in court within 30 days of the department's notice under this subdivision. A lien sale of the vehicle shall not be conducted unless judgment is subsequently entered in favor of the lienholder or the declarant subsequently releases his or her interest in the vehicle. If a money judgment is entered in favor of the lienholder and the judgment is not paid within five days after becoming final, then the judgment may be enforced by lien sale proceedings conducted pursuant to subdivision (f).

(e) Service on the declarant in person or by certified mail with return receipt requested, signed by the declarant or an authorized agent of the declarant at the address shown on the Declaration of Opposition form, shall be effective for the serving of process. If the lienholder has served the declarant by certified mail at the address shown on the Declaration of Opposition form and the mail has been returned unclaimed, or if the lienholder has attempted to effect service on the declarant in person with a marshal, sheriff, or licensed process server and the marshal, sheriff, or licensed process server has been unable to effect service on the declarant, the lienholder may proceed with the judicial proceeding or proceed with the lien sale without a judicial proceeding. The lienholder shall notify the department of the inability to effect service on the declarant and shall provide the department with a copy of the documents with which service on the declarant was attempted. Upon receipt of the notification of unsuccessful service, the department shall send authorization of the sale to the lienholder and send notification of the authorization to the declarant.

(f) Upon receipt of authorization to conduct the lien sale from the department, the lienholder shall immediately do all of the following:

(1) At least five days, but not more than 20 days, prior to the lien sale, not counting the day of the sale, give notice of the sale by advertising once in a newspaper of general circulation published in the county in which the vehicle is located. If there is no newspaper published in the county, notice shall be given by posting a Notice of Sale form in three of the most public places in the town in which the vehicle is located and at the place where the vehicle is to be sold for 10 consecutive days prior to and including the day of the sale.

(2) Send a Notice of Pending Lien Sale form 20 days prior to the sale but not counting the day of sale, by certified mail with return receipt requested, to each of the following:

(A) The registered and legal owners of the vehicle, if registered in this state.

(B) All persons known to have an interest in the vehicle.

(C) The department.

(g) All notices required by this section, including the notice forms prescribed by the department, shall specify the make, year model, vehicle identification number, license number, and state of registration, if available, and the specific date, exact time, and place of sale. For motorcycles, the engine number shall also be included.

(h) Following the sale of a vehicle, the person who conducts the sale shall do both of the following:

(1) Remove and destroy the vehicle's license plates.

(2) Within five days of the sale, submit a completed "Notice of Release of Liability" form to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

(i) The Department of Motor Vehicles shall retain all submitted forms described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (h) for two years.

(j) No lien sale shall be undertaken pursuant to this section unless the vehicle has been available for inspection at a location easily accessible to the public for at least one hour before the sale and is at the place of sale at the time and date specified on the notice of sale. Sealed bids shall not be accepted. The lienholder shall conduct the sale in a commercially reasonable manner.

(k) Within 10 days after the sale of any vehicle pursuant to this section, the legal or registered owner may redeem the vehicle upon the payment of the amount of the sale, all costs and expenses of the sale, together with interest on the sum at the rate of 12 percent per annum from the due date thereof or the date when that sum was advanced until the repayment. If the vehicle is not redeemed, all lien sale documents required by the department shall then be completed and delivered to the buyer.

(l) Any lien sale pursuant to this section shall be void if the lienholder does not comply with this chapter. Any lien for fees or storage charges for parking and storage of a motor vehicle shall be subject to Section 10652.5 of the Vehicle Code.

(Amended Sec. 1, Ch. 127, Stats. 2001. Effective July 30, 2001.)