On July 2, 1996, Governor Thomas Ridge signed Act No. 1996-93, which added, inter alia, 75 Pa.C.S. Section 6309.1, authorizing the impoundment and sale of motor vehicles under certain specified situations. This Joint General Court Regulation sets forth the procedure to be followed in implement Section 6309.1, which authorizes the impoundment and sale of motor vehicles for failure to pay fines in excess of $250.
1. Motor Vehicles Eligible for Impoundment. A defendant's motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 17,000 pounds or less may be impounded if upon conviction or entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere for any of the offenses set forth in 75 Pa. C.S. §6309.1(b), the defendant has outstanding or unpaid Traffic Court fines in excess of $250.00.
2. Prerequisites to Impoundment. A motor vehicle may not be impounded for a 24 hour period after the conviction or entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to enable the defendant to pay, or to make arrangements to pay, the fines and costs of prosecution. During that 24 hour period the motor vehicle may be rendered temporarily inoperable and transferred to a secure location for safe keeping.
3. Designation of Enforcement Officer. The Philadelphia Parking Authority is designated as "the appropriate law enforcement officer" who shall undertake the impoundment and notification as authorized by 75 Pa. C.S. §6309.1. The Traffic Court may, from time to time, designate different "appropriate law enforcement officers".
4. Impoundment. Upon expiration of the 24 hour period as set forth above, if the fines and costs are not paid or satisfactory arrangements have not been made to pay same the Traffic Court shall notify the Parking Authority to impound the vehicle and store same at an appropriate location.
5. Notice of Impoundment. The Philadelphia Parking Authority shall notify the defendant, the owner of the vehicle or combination, any lienholder and, if applicable, the owner of the load, that the motor vehicle has been impounded pursuant to 75 Pa. C.S. §6309.1 and of their right to reclaim the said motor vehicle and its contents by paying the outstanding fines and other applicable costs. The notice shall be in the form set forth as Exhibit "A". Notice shall be sent by regular mail with a Certificate of Mailing and also by certified mail, return receipt requested. Notice shall be deemed to have been provided upon the mailing of the letters. The Traffic Court shall give a similar notice, which shall be substantially as set forth hereunder as Exhibit "B"; provided, however, that the said notice may be sent together with the notice sent by the Philadelphia Parking Authority.
6. Filing of Petition. A Civil Cover Sheet, Petition and Motion Court Cover Sheet shall be filed with the Prothonotary of the Court of Common Pleas setting forth, inter alia, that prior to impounding the motor vehicle, the defendant was given 24 hours to make arrangements for payment of the underlying fines, setting forth the efforts made to notify the owners, and lienholders, of record, and that the outstanding fines and costs have not been paid. Attached to the Petition shall be copies of the notices sent to the appropriate parties, the Certificates of Mailing and, if returned, the Certified Return Receipts. Upon review of the Petition, the President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, or his designee, may enter an Order authorizing the Philadelphia Parking Authority, 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 "C".
7. Notice of Auction Date and Rights of Owners and Lienholders of Record Pending Auction. Notice of the auction dates shall be set forth in the notice to the owners as provided in Section 5 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. At any time prior to the auction date, any owner, or lienholder, may obtain the release of the motor vehicle upon the payment of the fines, fees and costs as set forth in the notice and as may be incurred thereafter. In the event a vehicle scheduled to be auctioned on a specific date is not auctioned on that date, the said vehicle may be auctioned on a subsequent date provided, however, that the Philadelphia Parking Authority shall, in rescheduling the auction date, provide notices substantially as set forth in Sections 5 and 7, and shall otherwise comply with the within Joint General Court Regulation.
8. List of Successful Bidders. At the auction, the Philadelphia Parking Authority, and/or its authorized agent, shall maintain a list of the successful bidders. The said list shall be submitted to the Court within thirty (30) days after the auction entry of an order directing the Department 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 "D".
9. 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:
Any remaining proceeds shall be subject to the demands of the original owner of record and/or lienholder 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.
10. 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