The Basics – New Alabama Unclaimed Vehicle Law

UPDATE: Click Here To Read Upcoming Changes To the Alabama Unclaimed / Abandoned Vehicle Law January 1, 2020!

Unclaimed _ Abandoned(1)The New Unclaimed / Abandoned Vehicle Law.

A Serene & Quiet(3)

The new unclaimed vehicle law went into effect July 01, 2016 and has definitely caused some controversy.  I wanted to write this article to give you the ‘Basics’ of what I know and break it all down for you. I’ve been preparing abandoned vehicle sale paperwork for the past 15 years and the new law has made a traumatic change to the way we’ve been doing things. The abandoned vehicle law needed to be updated with more modern techniques and as new circumstances arise with unclaimed / abandoned vehicles, the State needed to come up with a solution.

Legal Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the State of Alabama or any Government Identity. I am a 3rd party processor in business for profit to prepare and process unclaimed / abandoned vehicle documents on behalf of my clients & customers throughout the State of Alabama. This article is just for informational purposes and is not intended to give legal advise. Please consult an Attorney for legal assistance. 

Legislative Act 2015-470 amended the unclaimed/abandoned motor vehicle law. The Unclaimed/Abandoned portal must be used to complete the following process to report a vehicle as “unclaimed” and sell the vehicle as an “abandoned” vehicle.  To sell an abandoned vehicle, the unclaimed vehicle MUST be entered into the Alabama Unclaimed/Abandoned portal.

Now, the vehicle left unattended or not claimed by the owner for more than 48 hours, the vehicle is considered unclaimed. After the vehicle has been reported to the State and ALL the procedures have been done outlined in the new unclaimed / abandoned law, the vehicle is then considered abandoned and can be sold.

Within five (5) calendar days from the date the vehicle was first considered “unclaimed” by the person or entity in possession of a motor vehicle, the vehicle must be reported as “unclaimed” to the DOR through the Unclaimed/Abandoned portal. A forty-five (45) day hold will be placed on the vehicle title record in order to protect the person or entity’s interest in the vehicle. : (after the 48 hours, the vehicle is considered unclaimed, the State will allow you a 5 day grace period to report the vehicle unclaimed to them through the portal. The vehicle must be reported at least by the 7th day of the vehicle being in your possession. Storage charges start when the vehicle is reported.)

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Unclaimed motor vehicles include the following:

  • A motor vehicle left unattended on a public road or highway for more than 48 hours.
  • A motor vehicle, not left on private property for repairs that has remained on private or other public property for a period of more than 48 hours without the consent of the owner or lessee of the property.
  • A motor vehicle, left on private property for repairs, that has not been reclaimed within 48 hours from the latter of either the date the repairs were completed or the agreed upon redemption date.
  • A motor vehicle left unattended on a public street, road, or highway or other property for a period of at least 48 hours.
  • A motor vehicle left unattended because the driver has been arrested or is impaired by an accident or for any other reason which causes the need for the vehicle to be immediately removed as determined necessary by law enforcement.

NOTE: Failure to report a motor vehicle as unclaimed or failure to notify the owner and lienholder of record, if any, shall result in the forfeiture of all claims and liens for the vehicle’s garaging, parking, and storage prior to the time the vehicle is reported as unclaimed. (Failure to report the vehicle unclaimed to the State will not allow you to charge a daily storage fee, however, you will still be able to charge your repair and towing fees to the owner / lien holder.)

What to do after the vehicle has been reported Unclaimed to the Department of Revenue using the Unclaimed/Abandoned portal?

After the vehicle has been reported unclaimed,  the Law requires you to start your search for the owner / lien holder information. This may include using the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) to determine the State in which the vehicle is titled and/or registered. Some States and Vehicle Title Data Industries provide a service to pull records online while others require a written request by mail. Within 5 days, you are to request an owner/lien holder records request from the State of Record found using the NMVTIS system.

Once you receive the records request from the State of Record, within 5 days, you must send a Notice of Possession to the owner and lien holder of record. The owner and lien holder of record must be reported to DOR through the Unclaimed/Abandoned portal along with repairs, towing, daily storage rate and any other fees that is owed on the vehicle.

My staff and I at Jason Steward Enterprises, Inc are dedicated to providing you with an exceptional service experience of reporting and following procedures outlined by the State of Alabama on your unclaimed / abandoned vehicles. We know you have a business to run and you have enough to do!  Contact us today for a FREE consultation on how we can help you and your business stay in compliance on reporting your unclaimed vehicles and preparation of abandoned vehicle sale documents.

We are available by phone, email, online chat and facebook chat to answer any questions you have about the new unclaimed / abandoned vehicle law.

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To Your Success!

Jason Steward


Jason Steward Enterprises, Inc