How is vehicle abandonment defined?

The definition of an abandoned vehicle is different in every state; however, it is typically a vehicle that has been left unattended on private or public property for a certain amount of time.

If you have come across of motor vehicle you suspect to be abandoned, contact the Department of Motor Vehicle division in your state.

Example of Abandonment

In the state of Georgia, an abandoned vehicle is a vehicle that meets one or several of the following criteria:

  • The vehicle has been with a dealer or repairman for a period of 30 or more days.
  • The vehicle has been parked on a public street or highway for a period of five or more days. In this instance, it is at the discretion of a law enforcement officer to determine if the vehicle has been abandoned.
  • The vehicle has been towed to an area designated by a law enforcement officer, yet remains unclaimed after 30 days.
  • The vehicle has been left unattended on private property – not belonging to the vehicle’s owner – for 30 days or more.
Once again, the definition of abandonment varies in every state. Look up the criteria for your own state online, or contact your local DMV branch.

Titles for Abandoned Vehicles

After determining that a vehicle has been abandoned, the state court will appoint a private party to handle the public sale of the abandoned vehicle. If you have recently purchased an abandoned vehicle from a court appointed party, you can obtain a vehicle title by submitting the following to a local DMV branch:

  • Application for title.
  • Certified court document, authorizing the vehicle sale.
  • Certificate of inspection, if an inspection is required in your state.
  • Bill of sale, signed by the court appointed party.
  • Required car title fee.
You might also be required to submit a notarized affidavit, stating that the public sale took place, and that your bid for the vehicle was highest. The state of Georgia, for example, also requires a copy of the advertisement for the vehicle sale.

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