TOWING & STORAGE LIENS


779.415 Liens on vehicles for towing and storage.

(1c) In this section, "vehicle" has the meaning given in s. 29.001 (87).

(1g)
(a) Every motor carrier holding a permit to perform vehicle towing services, every licensed motor vehicle salvage dealer, and every licensed motor vehicle dealer who performs vehicle towing services or stores a vehicle, when such towing or storage is performed at the direction of a traffic officer or the owner of the vehicle, shall, subject to sub. (1m) (b), have a lien on the vehicle for reasonable towing and storage charges, and may retain possession of the vehicle, until such charges are paid. If the vehicle is subject to a lien perfected under ch. 342, a towing lien shall have priority only to the extent of $100 for a vehicle having a manufacturer's gross weight rating of 20,000 pounds or less and $350 for a vehicle having a manufacturer's gross weight rating of more than 20,000 pounds and a storage lien shall have priority only to the extent of $10 per day but for a total amount of not more than $600 for a vehicle having a manufacturer's gross weight rating of 20,000 pounds or less and $25 per day but for a total amount of not more than $1,500 for a vehicle having a manufacturer's gross weight rating of more than 20,000 pounds. If the value of the vehicle exceeds $750, the lien may be enforced under s. 779.48 (2). If the value of the vehicle does not exceed $750, the lien may only be enforced by sale or junking as provided in sub. (2).

(b) If the vehicle is towed or stored under the directions of a traffic officer, any personal property within the vehicle shall be released to the owner of the vehicle as provided under s. 349.13 (5) (b) 2. No additional charge may be assessed against the owner for the removal or release of the personal property within the vehicle.

(c) Annually, on January 1, the department of agriculture, trade and consumer protection shall adjust the dollar amounts identified under par. (a) by the annual change in the consumer price index, as determined under s. 16.004 (8) (e) 1., and publish the adjusted figures.

(1m)
(a) Within 30 days after taking possession of a vehicle, every motor carrier, licensed motor vehicle salvage dealer, and licensed motor vehicle dealer under sub. (1g) shall send written notice to the owner of the vehicle and the holder of the senior lien on the vehicle informing them that they must take steps to obtain the release of the vehicle.

(b) To repossess the vehicle, the senior lienholder must pay all towing and storage charges that have a priority under sub. (1g) (a) and all reasonable storage charges that have accrued after 60 days from the date on which possession of the vehicle was taken. Failure to notify the senior lienholder as provided in par. (a) renders void, with respect to the senior lienholder, any lien to which the motor carrier, licensed motor vehicle salvage dealer, or licensed motor vehicle dealer would otherwise be entitled under sub. (1g).

(2) At least 20 days prior to sale or junking, notice thereof shall be given by certified mail to the person shown to be the owner of the vehicle in the records of the department of transportation and to any person who has a lien on such vehicle perfected under ch. 342, stating that unless the vehicle owner or the owner's agent pays all reasonable towing and storage charges for the vehicle within said 20 days the vehicle will be exposed for sale or junked, as the case may be. If the proceeds of the sale exceed the charges, the balance shall be paid to the holder of the senior lien perfected under ch. 342, and if none, then to the owner as shown in the records of the department of transportation.

NOTE: This section is shown as affected eff. 8-1-10 by 2009 Wis. Act. 201. Prior to 8-1-10 it reads:

779.415 Liens on motor vehicles for towing and storage. (1) (a) Every motor carrier holding a permit to perform vehicle towing services, every licensed motor vehicle salvage dealer and every licensed motor vehicle dealer who performs vehicle towing services or stores a motor vehicle, when such towing or storage is performed at the direction of a traffic officer or the owner of the vehicle, shall, if the vehicle is not claimed as provided herein, have a lien on the motor vehicle for reasonable towing and storage charges, and may retain possession of the vehicle until such charges are paid. If the vehicle is subject to a lien perfected under ch. 342, a towing lien shall have priority only to the extent of $75 for a motor vehicle having a gross weight of 20,000 pounds or less and $250 for a motor vehicle having a gross weight of more than 20,000 pounds and a storage lien shall have priority only to the extent of $7 per day but for a total amount of not more than $420 for a motor vehicle having a gross weight of 20,000 pounds or less and $20 per day but for a total amount of not more than $1,200 for a motor vehicle having a gross weight of more than 20,000 pounds. If the value of the vehicle exceeds $500, the lien may be enforced under s. 779.48 (2). If the value of the vehicle does not exceed $500, the lien may be enforced by sale or junking substantially as provided in sub. (2).

(b) If the vehicle is towed or stored under the directions of a traffic officer, any personal property within the vehicle shall be released to the owner of the vehicle as provided under s. 349.13 (5) (b) 2. No additional charge may be assessed against the owner for the removal or release of the personal property within the vehicle.

(1m) Within 30 days after taking possession of a motor vehicle, every motor carrier, licensed motor vehicle salvage dealer and licensed motor vehicle dealer under sub. (1) shall send written notice to the owner of the vehicle and the holder of the senior lien on the vehicle informing them that they must take steps to obtain the release of the motor vehicle. To reclaim the vehicle, the owner or the senior lienholder must pay all towing and storage charges that have a priority under sub. (1) (a) and all reasonable storage charges that have accrued after 60 days from the date on which possession of the motor vehicle was taken. A reasonable effort to so notify the owner and the holder of the senior lien satisfies the notice requirement of this subsection. Failure to make a reasonable effort to so notify the owner and the senior lienholder renders void any lien to which the motor carrier, licensed motor vehicle salvage dealer or licensed motor vehicle dealer would otherwise be entitled under sub. (1).

(2) At least 20 days prior to sale or junking, notice thereof shall be given by registered mail to the person shown to be the owner of the vehicle in the records of the department of transportation and to any person who has a lien on such vehicle perfected under ch. 342, stating that unless the vehicle is claimed by the owner or the owner's agent within said 20 days the vehicle will be exposed for sale or junked, as the case may be. If the proceeds of the sale exceed the charges, the balance shall be paid to the holder of the senior lien perfected under ch. 342, and if none, then to the owner as shown in the records of the department of transportation.


History: 1977 c. 29 s. 1654 (7) (b); 1977 c. 273; 1979 c. 32 ss. 57, 92 (9); Stats. 1979 s. 779.415; 1983 a. 213, 445; 1989 a. 320; 1995 a. 62; 2009 a. 201.