10.15.030 Redemption of impounded vehicles.
Vehicles impounded by the city shall be redeemed only under the following circumstances:
(1) Only the registered owner, a person authorized by the registered owner, or one who has purchased the vehicle from the registered owner, who produces proof of ownership or authorization and signs a receipt therefor, may redeem an impounded vehicle. A person redeeming a vehicle impounded pursuant to this chapter must, prior to redemption, establish that he or she has a valid driver’s license and is in compliance with RCW 46.30.020 (Liability insurance or other financial responsibility required). A vehicle impounded pursuant to this chapter can be released only pursuant to written order from the police department or a court.
(2) Any person so redeeming a vehicle impounded by the city shall pay the towing contractor for costs of impoundment, removal, towing, and storage prior to redeeming such vehicle, except as provided for by subsection (3) of this section. Such towing contractor shall accept payment as provided in RCW 46.55.120(1)(b), as now or hereafter amended. If the vehicle was impounded pursuant to this chapter and was being operated by the registered owner when it was impounded, it may not be released to any person until all penalties, fines, or forfeitures owed by the registered owner have been satisfied.
(3) The chief of police is authorized to release a vehicle impounded pursuant to this code prior to the expiration of any period of impoundment upon petition of the spouse of the driver based on economic or personal hardship to such spouse resulting from the unavailability of the vehicle, and after consideration of the threat to public safety that may result from the release of the vehicle, including but not limited to the driver’s criminal history, driving record, license status and access to the vehicle. If such release is authorized, the person redeeming the vehicle must satisfy the requirements stated in subsections (1) and (2) of this section.
(4) Any person seeking to redeem a vehicle impounded as a result of a parking or traffic infraction has a right to a hearing before an administrative hearings officer to contest the validity of an impoundment or the amount of removal, towing and storage charges if such request for hearing is in writing, in a form approved by the chief of police and signed by such person, and is received by the chief of police within 10 days (including Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays) of the date the notice was given to such person by the registered tow truck operator pursuant to RCW 46.55.120(2)(a). Such hearing shall be provided as follows:
(a) If all of the requirements to redeem the vehicle, including expiration of any period of impoundment under RCW 46.20.342, have been satisfied, then the impounded vehicle shall be released immediately and a hearing shall be held within 90 days of receipt of the written request for hearing.
(b) If all of the requirements to redeem the vehicle, including expiration of any period of impoundment under RCW 46.20.342, have not been satisfied, then the impounded vehicle shall not be released until after the hearing which shall be held within two business days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays) of the written request for hearing.
(c) Any person seeking a hearing who has failed to request such hearing within the time specified herein may petition the chief of police for an extension of time to file a request for hearing. Such extension shall only be granted upon the demonstration of good cause as to the reason(s) the request for hearing was not timely filed. For the purposes of this section, good cause shall be defined as circumstances beyond the control of the person seeking the hearing that prevented such person from filing a timely request for hearing. In the event such extension is granted, the person receiving such extension shall be granted a hearing in accordance with this chapter.
(d) If a person fails to file a timely request for hearing and no extension to file such a request has been granted, the right to a hearing is waived, the impoundment and the associated costs of impoundment are deemed to be proper, and the city shall not be liable for removal, towing and storage charges arising from the impoundment.
(e) In accordance with RCW 46.55.240(1)(d), a decision made by an administrative hearings officer may be appealed to municipal court for final judgment. The hearing on the appeal under this subsection shall be de novo. A person appealing such a decision must file a request of an appeal in municipal court within 15 days after the decision of the administrative hearings officer and must pay a filing fee in the same amount required for the filing of a suit in district court. If a person fails to file a request for an appeal within the time specified by this section or does not pay the filing fee, the right to an appeal is waived and the administrative hearings officer’s decision is final. (Ord. 456 § 1, 2012; Ord. 347 § 3, 2000)