On July 2, 1996, Governor Thomas Ridge signed Act No. 1996-93 which authorizes the impoundment and sale of motor vehicles under certain specified situations. The within Joint General Court Regulation sets forth the procedure to be followed in implementing Section 6309.2, which authorizes the impoundment and sale of motor vehicles for driving without operating privileges or registration.
1. Motor Vehicles Eligible for Immobilization and Impoundment. Motor vehicles are subject to immobilization and impoundment for two reasons:
a. Motor vehicles driven by an unlicensed person, or while the person's operating privilege is suspended, revoked, canceled, recalled or disqualified; or
b. Motor vehicle itself is not registered, or for which the registration is suspended for failure to secure or maintain financial responsibility.
2. Prerequisite to Immobilization and Impoundment. The bases identified in Section 1 above must be verified with the applicable Department of Motor Vehicles by the Philadelphia Police Department before the motor vehicle may be immobilized and impounded.
3. Prerequisites to Impoundment. A motor vehicle may not be impounded for a 24 hour period after it is immobilized so as to enable the owner or operator of the immobilized motor vehicle to appear in Traffic Court and furnish proof of registration and financial responsibility and compliance with Titles 42 and 75. During that 24 hour period, however, the motor vehicle shall be immobilized and may be transferred to a secure location for safe keeping.
4. Designation of Enforcement Officer. The Traffic Court may, from time to time, appoint such "appropriate towing and storage agents" as may be necessary to undertake the impoundment and notification required by Act No. 1996-93.
5. Impoundment. Upon expiration of the 24 hour period as set forth above, if a Certificate of Release has not been issued evidencing compliance with 75 Pa. C.S. §6309.2(b) and Sections 2 and 3 above, the appointed towing and storage agents shall impound the vehicle and store same at an appropriate location.
6. Notice of Impoundment. When applicable, the appropriate law enforcement officer shall issue a citation or summons to the operator of the motor vehicle. The appropriate towing and storage agent shall notify the title owner of the vehicle or combination and any lienholder and, if applicable, the owner of the load, of the fact that the motor vehicle has been impounded pursuant to 75 Pa. C.S. §6309.2 and of their right to recover the said motor vehicle by showing compliance with 75 Pa. C.S. §6309.2(b). The notice shall further provide that if the vehicle is not recovered by a stated date, the vehicle will be sold. The notice shall be substantially in the form set forth hereunder as Exhibit "A". Notice shall be sent to the addresses on file at the appropriate departments of motor vehicle by regular mail, which the Court finds to be the most expeditious means, and a Certificate of Mailing shall be obtained. Notice shall be deemed to have been provided upon the mailing of the notices as set forth herein.
7. Obtaining Leave of Court to Sell Vehicle. A Petition and Motion Court Cover Sheet shall be filed with the Prothonotary and Civil Administration setting forth, inter alia, that prior to impounding the motor vehicle, the operator and owner of the motor vehicle had 24 hours to obtain a certificate of release as provided in 75 Pa. C.S. §6303.2(b), and further setting forth the efforts made to notify the owners, and lienholders of record, the fact that no Certificate of Release has been issued, or if issued, that the vehicle has not been recovered. Copies of the notices sent to the appropriate parties and the Certificates of Mailing shall be attached to the Petition. Upon review of the Petition, the President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, or his designee, if satisfied that the required Notices were sent, that no Certificate of Release was issued, or that if issued, the vehicle has not been recovered, that the owner or operator of the impounded motor vehicle have not complied with 75 Pa. C.S. §6309.2, and that the requisite fines and costs have not been paid, may enter an Order authorizing the Traffic Court, through its authorized agent, to sell at public auction the motor vehicles described in the said Petition. The Order shall be substantially in the form set forth hereunder as Exhibit "B".
8. Notice of Auction Date and Rights of Owners of Record and Lienholders of Record Pending Auction. Notice of the auction dates shall be provided as set forth in Section 6 above. Notice of the public auction shall also be provided by publication at least five (5) days before the auction in either The Philadelphia Inquirer or The Philadelphia Daily News, or as otherwise directed by the Court of Common Pleas. At any time prior to the auction date, any operator, owner, or lienholder, may obtain the release of the motor vehicle upon compliance with 75 Pa. C.S. §6309.2(b) and upon payment of the fines, fees and costs as set forth in the Notice and as may be incurred thereafter. Upon issuance of the Certificate of Release by the Traffic Court, the motor vehicle must be picked up before the auction set forth in the Notice provided as required in Section 6 above. In the event a vehicle scheduled to be auctioned on a specific date established in accordance with the procedures set forth herein is not auctioned on that date, the said vehicle may be auctioned on a subsequent date provided, however, that the interested parties are provided new Notices setting forth the date of the rescheduled auction, substantially as set forth in Sections 6 and 8.
9. List of Successful Bidders. At the auction, the Traffic Court and/or its authorized agent, shall maintain a list of the successful bidders. The said list shall be submitted to the Court of Common Pleas within thirty (30) days after the auction so that an order may be entered, if necessary, directing the appropriate departments of transportation to extinguish title of the prior owners or lienholders of record and to issue certificates of ownership to the successful bidders. The order shall substantially be in the form set forth hereunder as Exhibit "C".
10. Disposition of Proceeds of the Auction. The proceeds from the auction shall be used to satisfy the various fines and costs in the following order: cost of sale (auctioneer, advertising); costs associated with towing and storage; administrative costs imposed by Traffic Court; fines imposed by the Traffic Court on the owner or lienholder of the impounded vehicle or load, including full payment of any sums which may be due pursuant to a payment plan approved by the Court; and City of Philadelphia parking fines. Any remaining proceeds shall be subject to the demands of the original owner and lienholders of record as their interest may appear. If not claimed within one year, any such remaining proceeds shall be forfeited to the City of Philadelphia or utilized as otherwise provided by the President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas.
11. Post-Auction Petition or Relief. Proceedings instituted after the sale or
auction of any motor vehicle conducted as authorized by 75 Pa. C.S. §6309.2 and the within Joint General Court Regulation disputing the underlying facts or offenses rendering the motor vehicle subject to sale or auction shall not invalidate the sale or auction. In the event relief is granted and the underlying offenses discharged, the only entitlement the owner and lienholder may have, if raised within the applicable limitations period, shall be the return of any remaining proceeds from the sale or auction of the motor vehicle as provided in Section 10 above.
12. Effective Date. This Joint General Court Regulation shall become effective immediately.
This Joint General Court Regulation is promulgated in accordance with Act 1996-93, the May 8, 1996 Order of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Eastern District, No. 168 Judicial Administration, Docket No. 1, Phila. Civ. R. 51 and Pa. R.C.P. 239. As required by Pa. R.C.P. 239, the original Joint General Court Regulation shall be filed with the Prothonotary in a docket maintained for General Court Regulations issued by the President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, and copies shall be submitted to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, the Legislative Reference Bureau and the Civil Procedural Rules Committee. Copies of the Regulation shall also be submitted to Legal Communications, Ltd., The Legal Intelligencer, Jenkins Memorial Law Library and the Law Library for the First Judicial District.
COURT OF COMMON PLEAS