BILL NUMBER: SB 201	ENROLLED
	BILL TEXT

	PASSED THE SENATE  SEPTEMBER 10, 2009
	PASSED THE ASSEMBLY  SEPTEMBER 8, 2009
	AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY  SEPTEMBER 4, 2009
	AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY  JUNE 23, 2009
	AMENDED IN SENATE  MAY 19, 2009
	AMENDED IN SENATE  APRIL 13, 2009

INTRODUCED BY   Senator Oropeza

                        FEBRUARY 23, 2009

   An act to amend Section 21100.4 of the Vehicle Code, relating to
vehicles.



	LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


   SB 201, Oropeza. Vehicles: illegal taxicabs.
   (1) Existing law requires a magistrate, who is presented with the
affidavit of a peace officer or a designated local transportation
officer establishing reasonable cause to believe that a vehicle,
described by vehicle type and license number, is being operated as a
taxicab or other passenger vehicle for hire in violation of the
licensing requirements adopted by a local authority, to issue a
warrant or order authorizing any peace officer to immediately seize
and cause the removal of the vehicle for a period of impoundment not
to exceed 30 days.
   Existing law also requires the impounding agency to release the
vehicle to the registered or legal owner or his or her agent prior to
the end of the period of impoundment and without the permission of
the magistrate authorizing the seizure of the vehicle if specified
conditions are met and prohibits the legal owner or his or her agent
from releasing the vehicle to the registered owner until the
termination of the impoundment period. Existing law also specifies
when the registered or legal owner or his or her agent is responsible
for paying all towing and storage charges or fees.
   This bill would revise the conditions by which the impounded
vehicle is required to be released to the legal owner or the legal
owner's agent prior to the end of the impoundment period and without
the permission of the magistrate authorizing the seizure of the
vehicle.
    The bill would also establish monetary transaction requirements
for a person operating or in charge of a storage facility, including
accepting a valid bank credit card or cash for payment of towing,
storage, and related fees by a legal or registered owner or the owner'
s agent claiming the vehicle. The bill would provide that the person
operating or in charge of a storage facility who violates these
requirements is civilly liable to the owner of the vehicle or to the
person who tendered the fees for 4 times the amount of the towing,
storage, and related fees, but not to exceed $500.
   This bill would make a legal owner who, knowingly releases or
causes the release of a vehicle to a registered owner or the person
in possession of the vehicle at the time of the impound or an agent
of the registered owner prior to the termination of the impoundment
period subject to a civil penalty in the amount of $1,250.
   (2) This bill would also incorporate additional changes in Section
21100.4 of the Vehicle Code proposed by AB 515, that would become
operative only if AB 515 and this bill are both chaptered and become
effective on or before January 1, 2010, and this bill is chaptered
last.


THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  SECTION 1.  Section 21100.4 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:

   21100.4.  (a) (1) A magistrate presented with the affidavit of a
peace officer or a designated local transportation officer
establishing reasonable cause to believe that a vehicle, described by
vehicle type and license number, is being operated as a taxicab or
other passenger vehicle for hire in violation of licensing
requirements adopted by a local authority under subdivision (b) of
Section 21100 shall issue a warrant or order authorizing a peace
officer or designated local transportation officer to immediately
seize and cause the removal of the vehicle. As used in this section,
"designated local transportation officer" means a local public
officer employed by a local authority to investigate and enforce
local taxicab and vehicle for hire laws and regulations.
   (2) The warrant or court order may be entered into a computerized
database.
   (3) A vehicle so impounded may be impounded for a period not to
exceed 30 days.
   (4) The impounding agency, within two working days of impoundment,
shall send a notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, to
the legal owner of the vehicle, at an address obtained from the
department, informing the owner that the vehicle has been impounded
and providing the owner with a copy of the warrant or court order.
Failure to notify the legal owner within two working days shall
prohibit the impounding agency from charging for more than 15 days'
impoundment when a legal owner redeems the impounded vehicle.
   (b) (1) An impounding agency shall release a vehicle to the
registered owner, or his or her agent, prior to the end of the
impoundment period and without the permission of the magistrate
authorizing the vehicle's seizure under any of the following
circumstances:
   (A) When the vehicle is a stolen vehicle.
   (B) When the vehicle was seized under this section for an offense
that does not authorize the seizure of the vehicle.
   (2) A vehicle shall not be released under this subdivision, except
upon presentation of the registered owner's or agent's currently
valid license to operate the vehicle under the licensing requirements
adopted by the local authority under subdivision (b) of Section
21100, and proof of current vehicle registration, or upon order of
the court.
   (c) (1) Whenever a vehicle is impounded under this section, the
magistrate ordering the storage shall provide the vehicle's
registered and legal owners of record, or their agents, with the
opportunity for a poststorage hearing to determine the validity of
the storage.
   (2) A notice of the storage shall be mailed or personally
delivered to the registered and legal owners within 48 hours after
issuance of the warrant or court order, excluding weekends and
holidays, by the person or agency executing the warrant or court
order, and shall include all of the following information:
   (A) The name, address, and telephone number of the agency
providing the notice.
   (B) The location of the place of storage and a description of the
vehicle, that shall include, if available, the name or make, the
manufacturer, the license plate number, and the mileage of the
vehicle.
   (C) A copy of the warrant or court order and the peace officer's
affidavit, as described in subdivision (a).
   (D) A statement that, in order to receive their poststorage
hearing, the owners, or their agents, are required to request the
hearing from the magistrate issuing the warrant or court order in
person, in writing, or by telephone, within 10 days of the date of
the notice.
   (3) The poststorage hearing shall be conducted within two court
days after receipt of the request for the hearing.
   (4) At the hearing, the magistrate may order the vehicle released
if he or she finds any of the circumstances described in subdivision
(b) or (e) that allow release of a vehicle by the impounding agency.
   (5) Failure of either the registered or legal owner, or his or her
agent, to request, or to attend, a scheduled hearing satisfies the
poststorage hearing requirement.
   (6) The agency employing the peace officer or designated local
transportation officer who caused the magistrate to issue the warrant
or court order shall be responsible for the costs incurred for
towing and storage if it is determined in the poststorage hearing
that reasonable grounds for the storage are not established.
   (d) The registered owner, or his or her agent, is responsible for
all towing and storage charges related to the impoundment, and any
administrative charges authorized under Section 22850.5.
   (e) A vehicle removed and seized under subdivision (a) shall be
released to the legal owner of the vehicle or the legal owner's agent
prior to the end of the impoundment period and without the
permission of the magistrate authorizing the seizure of the vehicle
if all of the following conditions are met:
   (1) The legal owner is a motor vehicle dealer, bank, credit union,
acceptance corporation, or other licensed financial institution
legally operating in this state or is another person, not the
registered owner, holding a financial interest in the vehicle.
   (2) The legal owner or the legal owner's agent pays all towing and
storage fees related to the seizure of the vehicle. A lien sale
processing fee shall not be charged to the legal owner who redeems
the vehicle prior to the 15th day of impoundment. Neither the
impounding authority nor any person having possession of the vehicle
shall collect from the legal owner of the type specified in paragraph
(1), or the legal owner's agent, any administrative charges imposed
pursuant to Section 22850.5 unless the legal owner voluntarily
requested a poststorage hearing.
   (3) (A) The legal owner or the legal owner's agent presents a copy
of the assignment, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 7500.1
of the Business and Professions Code, a release from the one
responsible governmental agency, only if required by the agency; a
government-issued photographic identification card; and any one of
the following, as determined by the legal owner or the legal owner's
agent: a certificate of repossession for the vehicle, a security
agreement for the vehicle, or title, whether paper or electronic,
showing proof of legal ownership for the vehicle. Any documents
presented may be originals, photocopies, or facsimile copies, or may
be transmitted electronically. The law enforcement agency, impounding
agency, or any other governmental agency, or any person acting on
behalf of those agencies shall not require any documents to be
notarized. The law enforcement agency, impounding agency, or any
person acting on behalf of those agencies may require the agent of
the legal owner to produce a photocopy or facsimile copy of its
repossession agency license or registration issued pursuant to
Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 7500) of Division 3 of the
Business and Professions Code, or to demonstrate, to the satisfaction
of the law enforcement agency, impounding agency, or any person
acting on behalf of those agencies that the agent is exempt from
licensure pursuant to Section 7500.2 or 7500.3 of the Business and
Professions Code.
   (B) Administrative costs authorized under subdivision (a) of
Section 22850.5 shall not be charged to the legal owner of the type
specified in paragraph (1), who redeems the vehicle unless the legal
owner voluntarily requests a poststorage hearing. A city, county,
city and county, or state agency shall not require a legal owner or a
legal owner's agent to request a poststorage hearing as a
requirement for release of the vehicle to the legal owner or the
legal owner's agent. The law enforcement agency, impounding agency,
or other governmental agency, or any person acting on behalf of those
agencies, shall not require any documents other than those specified
in this paragraph. The law enforcement agency, impounding agency, or
other governmental agency, or any person acting on behalf of those
agencies, shall not require any documents to be notarized. The legal
owner or the legal owner's agent shall be given a copy of any
documents he or she is required to sign, except for a vehicle
evidentiary hold log book. The law enforcement agency, impounding
agency, or any person acting on behalf of those agencies, or any
person in possession of the vehicle, may photocopy and retain the
copies of any documents presented by the legal owner or legal owner's
agent.
   (4) A failure by a storage facility to comply with any of the
applicable conditions set forth in this subdivision shall not affect
the right of the legal owner or the legal owner's agent to retrieve
the vehicle if all conditions required of the legal owner or the
legal owner's agent under this subdivision are satisfied.
   (f) (1) A person operating or in charge of a storage facility
where vehicles are stored pursuant to this section shall accept a
valid bank credit card or cash for payment of towing, storage, and
related fees by a legal or registered owner, or the owner's agent
claiming the vehicle. A credit card shall be in the name of the
person presenting the card. "Credit card" has the same meaning as
defined in subdivision (a) of Section 1747.02 of the Civil Code,
except, for purposes of this section, credit card does not include a
credit card issued by a retail seller.
   (2) A person operating or in charge of a storage facility
described in paragraph (1) who violates that paragraph shall be
civilly liable to the legal or registered owner of the vehicle or to
the person who tendered the fees for four times the amount of the
towing, storage, and related fees, but not to exceed five hundred
dollars ($500).
   (3) A person operating or in charge of a storage facility
described in paragraph (1) shall have sufficient funds on the
premises of the primary storage facility during normal business hours
to accommodate, and make change in, a reasonable monetary
transaction.
   (4) Credit charges for towing and storage services shall comply
with Section 1748.1 of the Civil Code. Law enforcement agencies may
include the costs of providing for payment by credit when making
agreements agreeing with towing companies on rates.
   (g) (1) A legal owner or the legal owner's agent that obtains
release of the vehicle pursuant to subdivision (e) shall not release
the vehicle to the registered owner of the vehicle, or the person who
was listed as the registered owner when the vehicle was impounded,
or any agents of the registered owner until the termination of the
impoundment period.
   (2) The legal owner or the legal owner's agent shall not
relinquish the vehicle to the registered owner or the person who was
listed as the registered owner when the vehicle was impounded until
the registered owner or that owner's agent presents his or her valid
driver's license or valid temporary driver's license, and an operator'
s license that is in compliance with the licensing requirements
adopted by the local authority under subdivision (b) of Section
21100, to the legal owner or the legal owner's agent. The legal owner
or the legal owner's agent or the person in possession of the
vehicle shall make every reasonable effort to ensure that the
licenses presented are valid and that the vehicle is not released to
the driver who was involved in the original impound proceeding until
the expiration of the impoundment period.
   (3) Prior to relinquishing the vehicle, the legal owner may
require the registered owner to pay all towing and storage charges
related to the impoundment and the administrative charges authorized
under Section 22850.5 that were incurred by the legal owner in
connection with obtaining the custody of the vehicle.
   (4) A legal owner who knowingly releases or causes the release of
a vehicle to a registered owner or the person in possession of the
vehicle at the time of the impound or an agent of the registered
owner in violation of this subdivision shall be subject to a civil
penalty in the amount of one thousand two hundred fifty dollars
($1,250).
   (h) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the
registered owner and not the legal owner shall remain responsible for
any towing and storage charges related to the impoundment and the
administrative charges authorized under Section 22850.5 and any
parking fines, penalties, and administrative fees incurred by the
registered owner.
   (i) The impounding agency is not liable to the registered owner
for the improper release of the vehicle to the legal owner or the
legal owner's agent if the release complies with this section.
  SEC. 1.5.  Section 21100.4 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:
   21100.4.  (a) (1) A magistrate presented with the affidavit of a
peace officer or a designated local transportation officer
establishing reasonable cause to believe that a vehicle, described by
vehicle type and license number, is being operated as a taxicab or
other passenger vehicle for hire in violation of licensing
requirements adopted by a local authority under subdivision (b) of
Section 21100 shall issue a warrant or order authorizing a peace
officer or designated local transportation officer to immediately
seize and cause the removal of the vehicle. As used in this section,
"designated local transportation officer" means a local public
officer employed by a local authority to investigate and enforce
local taxicab and vehicle for hire laws and regulations.
   (2) The warrant or court order may be entered into a computerized
database.
   (3) A vehicle so impounded may be impounded for a period not to
exceed 30 days.
   (4) The impounding agency, within two working days of impoundment,
shall send a notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, to
the legal owner of the vehicle, at an address obtained from the
department, informing the owner that the vehicle has been impounded
and providing the owner with a copy of the warrant or court order.
Failure to notify the legal owner within two working days shall
prohibit the impounding agency from charging for more than 15 days'
impoundment when a legal owner redeems the impounded vehicle. The law
enforcement agency shall be open, without the necessity of making an
appointment, to issue a release to the registered owner or legal
owner, or the agent of either, whenever the agency is open to serve
the public for regular, nonemergency business.
   (b) (1) An impounding agency shall release a vehicle to the
registered owner, or his or her agent, prior to the end of the
impoundment period and without the permission of the magistrate
authorizing the vehicle's seizure under any of the following
circumstances:
   (A) When the vehicle is a stolen vehicle.
   (B) When the vehicle was seized under this section for an offense
that does not authorize the seizure of the vehicle.
   (2) A vehicle shall not be released under this subdivision, except
upon presentation of the registered owner's or agent's currently
valid license to operate the vehicle under the licensing requirements
adopted by the local authority under subdivision (b) of Section
21100, and proof of current vehicle registration, or upon order of
the court.
   (c) (1) Whenever a vehicle is impounded under this section, the
magistrate ordering the storage shall provide the vehicle's
registered and legal owners of record, or their agents, with the
opportunity for a poststorage hearing to determine the validity of
the storage.
   (2) A notice of the storage shall be mailed or personally
delivered to the registered and legal owners within 48 hours after
issuance of the warrant or court order, excluding weekends and
holidays, by the person or agency executing the warrant or court
order, and shall include all of the following information:
   (A) The name, address, and telephone number of the agency
providing the notice.
   (B) The location of the place of storage and a description of the
vehicle, which shall include, if available, the name or make, the
manufacturer, the license plate number, and the mileage of the
vehicle.
   (C) A copy of the warrant or court order and the peace officer's
affidavit, as described in subdivision (a).
   (D) A statement that, in order to receive their poststorage
hearing, the owners, or their agents, are required to request the
hearing from the magistrate issuing the warrant or court order in
person, in writing, or by telephone, within 10 days of the date of
the notice.
   (3) The poststorage hearing shall be conducted within two court
days after receipt of the request for the hearing.
   (4) At the hearing, the magistrate may order the vehicle released
if he or she finds any of the circumstances described in subdivision
(b) or (e) that allow release of a vehicle by the impounding agency.
   (5) Failure of either the registered or legal owner, or his or her
agent, to request, or to attend, a scheduled hearing satisfies the
poststorage hearing requirement.
   (6) The agency employing the peace officer or designated local
transportation officer who caused the magistrate to issue the warrant
or court order shall be responsible for the costs incurred for
towing and storage if it is determined in the poststorage hearing
that reasonable grounds for the storage are not established.
   (d) The registered owner, or his or her agent, is responsible for
all towing and storage charges related to the impoundment, and any
administrative charges authorized under Section 22850.5.
   (e) A vehicle removed and seized under subdivision (a) shall be
released to the legal owner of the vehicle or the legal owner's agent
prior to the end of the impoundment period and without the
permission of the magistrate authorizing the seizure of the vehicle
if all of the following conditions are met:
   (1) The legal owner is a motor vehicle dealer, bank, credit union,
acceptance corporation, or other licensed financial institution
legally operating in this state or is another person, not the
registered owner, holding a security interest in the vehicle.
   (2) (A) The legal owner or the legal owner's agent pays all towing
and storage fees related to the seizure of the vehicle. A lien sale
processing fee shall not be charged to the legal owner who redeems
the vehicle prior to the 15th day of impoundment. Neither the
impounding authority nor any person having possession of the vehicle
shall collect from the legal owner of the type specified in paragraph
(1), or the legal owner's agent, any administrative charges imposed
pursuant to Section 22850.5 unless the legal owner voluntarily
requested a poststorage hearing.
   (B) A person operating or in charge of a storage facility where
vehicles are stored pursuant to this section shall accept a valid
bank credit card or cash for payment of towing, storage, and related
fees by a legal or registered owner or the owner's agent claiming the
vehicle. A credit card shall be in the name of the person presenting
the card. "Credit card" means "credit card" as defined in
subdivision (a) of Section 1747.02 of the Civil Code, except, for the
purposes of this section, credit card does not include a credit card
issued by a retail seller.
   (C) A person operating or in charge of a storage facility
described in subparagraph (B) who violates subparagraph (B) shall be
civilly liable to the owner of the vehicle or to the person who
tendered the fees for four times the amount of the towing, storage,
and related fees, but not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500).
   (D) A person operating or in charge of a storage facility
described in subparagraph (B) shall have sufficient funds on the
premises of the primary storage facility during normal business hours
to accommodate, and make change in, a reasonable monetary
transaction.
   (E) Credit charges for towing and storage services shall comply
with Section 1748.1 of the Civil Code. Law enforcement agencies may
include the costs of providing for payment by credit when making
agreements with towing companies on rates.
   (3) (A) The legal owner or the legal owner's agent presents to the
law enforcement agency or impounding agency, or any person acting on
behalf of those agencies, a copy of the assignment, as defined in
subdivision (b) of Section 7500.1 of the Business and Professions
Code; a release from the one responsible governmental agency, only if
required by the agency; a government-issued photographic
identification card; and any one of the following as determined by
the legal owner or the legal owner's agent: a certificate of
repossession for the vehicle, a security agreement for the vehicle,
or title, whether paper or electronic, showing proof of legal
ownership for the vehicle. The law enforcement agency, impounding
agency, or any other governmental agency, or any person acting on
behalf of those agencies, shall not require the presentation of any
other documents.
   (B) The legal owner or the legal owner's agent presents to the
person in possession of the vehicle, or any person acting on behalf
of the person in possession, a copy of the assignment, as defined in
subdivision (b) of Section 7500.1 of the Business and Professions
Code; a release from the one responsible governmental agency, only if
required by the agency; a government-issued photographic
identification card; and any one of the following as determined by
the legal owner or the legal owner's agent: a certificate of
repossession for the vehicle, a security agreement for the vehicle,
or title, whether paper or electronic, showing proof of legal
ownership for the vehicle. The person in possession of the vehicle,
or any person acting on behalf of the person in possession, shall not
require the presentation of any other documents.
   (C) All presented documents may be originals, photocopies, or
facsimile copies, or may be transmitted electronically. The law
enforcement agency, impounding agency, or any person in possession of
the vehicle, or anyone acting on behalf of them, shall not require
any documents to be notarized. The law enforcement agency, impounding
agency, or any person acting on behalf of those agencies, may
require the agent of the legal owner to produce a photocopy or
facsimile copy of its repossession agency license or registration
issued pursuant to Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 7500) of
Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code, or to demonstrate,
to the satisfaction of the law enforcement agency, impounding agency,
or any person in possession of the vehicle, or anyone acting on
behalf of them, that the agent is exempt from licensure pursuant to
Section 7500.2 or 7500.3 of the Business and Professions Code.
   (D) Administrative costs authorized under subdivision (a) of
Section 22850.5 shall not be charged to the legal owner of the type
specified in paragraph (1) who redeems the vehicle unless the legal
owner voluntarily requests a poststorage hearing. A city, county,
city and county, or state agency shall not require a legal owner or a
legal owner's agent to request a poststorage hearing as a
requirement for release of the vehicle to the legal owner or the
legal owner's agent. The law enforcement agency, impounding agency,
or any other governmental agency, or any person acting on behalf of
those agencies, shall not require any documents other than those
specified in this paragraph. The law enforcement agency, impounding
agency, or other governmental agency, or any person acting on behalf
of those agencies, shall not require any documents to be notarized.
The legal owner or the legal owner's agent shall be given a copy of
any documents he or she is required to sign, except for a vehicle
evidentiary hold log book. The law enforcement agency, impounding
agency, or any person acting on behalf of those agencies, or any
person in possession of the vehicle, may photocopy and retain the
copies of any documents presented by the legal owner or legal owner's
agent.
   (4) A failure by a storage facility to comply with any applicable
conditions set forth in this subdivision shall not affect the right
of the legal owner or the legal owner's agent to retrieve the
vehicle, provided all conditions required of the legal owner or legal
owner's agent under this subdivision are satisfied.
   (f) (1) A legal owner or the legal owner's agent that obtains
release of the vehicle pursuant to subdivision (e) shall not release
the vehicle to the registered owner of the vehicle or the person who
was listed as the registered owner when the vehicle was impounded or
any agents of the registered owner until the termination of the
impoundment period.
   (2) The legal owner or the legal owner's agent shall not
relinquish the vehicle to the registered owner or the person who was
listed as the registered owner when the vehicle was impounded until
the registered owner or that owner's agent presents his or her valid
driver's license or valid temporary driver's license, and an operator'
s license that is in compliance with the licensing requirements
adopted by the local authority under subdivision (b) of Section
21100, to the legal owner or the legal owner's agent. The legal owner
or the legal owner's agent or the person in possession of the
vehicle shall make every reasonable effort to ensure that the
licenses presented are valid and possession of the vehicle will not
be given to the driver who was involved in the original impound
proceeding until the expiration of the impoundment period.
   (3) Prior to relinquishing the vehicle, the legal owner may
require the registered owner to pay all towing and storage charges
related to the impoundment and the administrative charges authorized
under Section 22850.5 that were incurred by the legal owner in
connection with obtaining the custody of the vehicle.
   (4) A legal owner who knowingly releases or causes the release of
a vehicle to a registered owner or the person in possession of the
vehicle at the time of the impound or an agent of the registered
owner in violation of this subdivision shall be guilty of a
misdemeanor and subject to a civil penalty in the amount of one
thousand two hundred fifty dollars ($1,250).
   (5) The legal owner, registered owner, or person in possession of
the vehicle shall not change or attempt to change the name of the
legal owner or the registered owner on the records of the department
until the vehicle is released from the impound.
   (g) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the
registered owner and not the legal owner shall remain responsible for
any towing and storage charges related to the impoundment and the
administrative charges authorized under Section 22850.5 and any
parking fines, penalties, and administrative fees incurred by the
registered owner.
   (h) The law enforcement agency and the impounding agency,
including any storage facility acting on behalf of the law
enforcement agency or impounding agency, shall comply with this
section                                             and shall not be
liable to the registered owner for the improper release of the
vehicle to the legal owner or the legal owner's agent provided the
release complies with the provisions of this section. The legal owner
shall indemnify and hold harmless a storage facility from any claims
arising out of the release of the vehicle to the legal owner or the
legal owner's agent and from any damage to the vehicle after its
release, including the reasonable costs associated with defending any
such claims. A law enforcement agency shall not refuse to issue a
release to a legal owner or the agent of a legal owner on the grounds
that it previously issued a release.
  SEC. 2.  Section 1.5 of this bill incorporates amendments to
Section 21100.4 of the Vehicle Code proposed by both this bill and AB
515. It shall only become operative if (1) both bills are enacted
and become effective on or before January 1, 2010, (2) each bill
amends Section 21100.4 of the Vehicle Code, and (3) this bill is
enacted after AB 515, in which case Section 1 of this bill shall not
become operative.