10.15.040 Post-impoundment hearing procedure.
Hearings requested pursuant to this chapter shall be held by an administrative hearings officer who shall determine whether the impoundment was proper and whether the associated removal, towing, administrative, and/or storage fees were proper.
(1) At the hearing, an abstract of the driver’s driving record is admissible without further evidentiary foundation and is prima facie evidence of the status of the driver’s license, permit or privilege to drive and that the driver was convicted of each offense shown on the abstract. In addition, a certified vehicle registration of the impound vehicle is admissible without further evidentiary foundation and is prima facie evidence of the identity of the registered owner of the vehicle.
(2) If the impoundment is found to be proper, the administrative hearings officer shall enter an order so stating. In the event that the costs of impoundment, removal, towing, and storage have not been paid or any other applicable requirements of this chapter have not been satisfied, or any period of impoundment under this chapter has not expired, the administrative hearings officer’s order shall also provide that the impounded vehicle shall be released only after payment to the city of any fines imposed on any underlying traffic or parking infraction and satisfaction of any other applicable requirements of this chapter. In the event that the administrative hearings officer grants time payments, the city shall be responsible for paying the costs of impoundment to the towing company. The administrative hearings officer shall grant time payments only in cases of extreme financial need, and where there is an effective guarantee of payment.
(3) If the impoundment is found to be improper, the administrative hearings officer shall enter an order so stating and order the immediate release of the vehicle. If the costs of impoundment have already been paid, the administrative hearings officer shall enter judgement against the city and in favor of the person who has paid the costs of impoundment in the amount of the costs of the impoundment.
(4) In the event that the administrative hearings officer finds that the impound was proper, but that the removal, towing, administrative, and/or storage fees charged for the impoundment were improper, the administrative hearings officer shall determine the correct fees to be charged. If the costs of impoundment have been paid, the administrative hearings officer shall enter judgment against the city and in favor of the person who has paid the costs of impoundment for the amount of the overpayment.
(5) No determination of facts made at a hearing under this section shall have any collateral estoppel effect on a subsequent criminal prosecution and such determination shall not preclude litigation of those same facts in a subsequent criminal prosecution.
(6) As to any impoundment arising from an alleged violation of RCW 46.20.342 or 46.20.420, if it is determined to be improper, then the law enforcement officer directing the impoundment and the government employing the officer are not liable for damages if the officer relied in good faith and without gross negligence on the records of the department in ascertaining that the operator of the vehicle had a suspended or revoked license.
(7) An appeal of the administrative hearings officer’s decision in municipal court shall be conducted according to, and subject to, the procedures of this section. If the court finds that the impoundment or towing, storage or administrative fees are improper, any judgement entered against the city shall include the amount of the filing fee. (Ord. 456 § 1, 2012; Ord. 347 § 4, 2000)