Florida Senate - 2019                        COMMITTEE AMENDMENT
       Bill No. SB 826
                              LEGISLATIVE ACTION                        
                    Senate             .             House              

       The Committee on Judiciary (Rouson) recommended the following:
    1         Senate Amendment (with title amendment)
    3         Delete everything after the enacting clause
    4  and insert:
    5         Section 1. Paragraphs (c) and (d) of subsection (4),
    6  subsection (6), and subsection (10) of section 713.78, Florida
    7  Statutes, are amended, and subsection (14) is added to that
    8  section, to read:
    9         713.78 Liens for recovering, towing, or storing vehicles
   10  and vessels.—
   11         (4)
   12         (c) Notice by certified mail shall be sent Within 7
   13  business days after the date of storage of the vehicle or
   14  vessel, the towing-storage operator shall, through a third-party
   15  notification service approved by the Department of Highway
   16  Safety and Motor Vehicles, send notice by certified mail to the
   17  registered owner, the insurance company insuring the vehicle
   18  notwithstanding the provisions of s. 627.736, and all persons of
   19  record claiming a lien against the vehicle or vessel. The notice
   20  must It shall state the fact of possession of the vehicle or
   21  vessel, that a lien as provided in subsection (2) is claimed,
   22  that charges have accrued and the amount thereof, that the lien
   23  is subject to enforcement pursuant to law, and that the owner or
   24  lienholder, if any, has the right to a hearing as set forth in
   25  subsection (5), and that any vehicle or vessel which remains
   26  unclaimed, or for which the charges for recovery, towing, or
   27  storage services remain unpaid, may be sold free of all prior
   28  liens after 35 days if the vehicle or vessel is more than 3
   29  years of age or after 50 days if the vehicle or vessel is 3
   30  years of age or less.
   31         (d) If attempts to locate the name and address of the owner
   32  or lienholder prove unsuccessful, the towing-storage operator
   33  shall, after 7 business working days, excluding Saturday and
   34  Sunday, of the initial tow or storage, the towing-storage
   35  operator, through a third-party notification service approved by
   36  the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, shall send
   37  notice by certified mail to notify the public agency of
   38  jurisdiction where the vehicle or vessel is stored in writing by
   39  certified mail or acknowledged hand delivery that the towing
   40  storage company has been unable to locate the name and address
   41  of the owner or lienholder and a physical search of the vehicle
   42  or vessel has disclosed no ownership information and a good
   43  faith effort has been made, including records checks of the
   44  Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles database and the
   45  National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or an equivalent
   46  commercially available system. For purposes of this paragraph
   47  and subsection (9), “good faith effort” means that the following
   48  checks have been performed by the company to establish prior
   49  state of registration and for title:
   50         1. Check of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor
   51  Vehicles database for the owner and any lienholder.
   52         2. Check of the electronic National Motor Vehicle Title
   53  Information System or an equivalent commercially available
   54  system to determine the state of registration when there is not
   55  a current registration record for the vehicle on file with the
   56  Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
   57         3. Check of vehicle or vessel for any type of tag, tag
   58  record, temporary tag, or regular tag.
   59         4. Check of law enforcement report for tag number or other
   60  information identifying the vehicle or vessel, if the vehicle or
   61  vessel was towed at the request of a law enforcement officer.
   62         5. Check of trip sheet or tow ticket of tow truck operator
   63  to see if a tag was on vehicle or vessel at beginning of tow, if
   64  private tow.
   65         6. If there is no address of the owner on the impound
   66  report, check of law enforcement report to see if an out-of
   67  state address is indicated from driver license information.
   68         7. Check of vehicle or vessel for inspection sticker or
   69  other stickers and decals that may indicate a state of possible
   70  registration.
   71         8. Check of the interior of the vehicle or vessel for any
   72  papers that may be in the glove box, trunk, or other areas for a
   73  state of registration.
   74         9. Check of vehicle for vehicle identification number.
   75         10. Check of vessel for vessel registration number.
   76         11. Check of vessel hull for a hull identification number
   77  which should be carved, burned, stamped, embossed, or otherwise
   78  permanently affixed to the outboard side of the transom or, if
   79  there is no transom, to the outmost seaboard side at the end of
   80  the hull that bears the rudder or other steering mechanism.
   81         (6) Any vehicle or vessel which is stored pursuant to
   82  subsection (2) and which remains unclaimed, or for which
   83  reasonable charges for recovery, towing, or storing remain
   84  unpaid, and any contents not released pursuant to subsection
   85  (10), may be sold by the owner or operator of the storage space
   86  for such towing or storage charge after 35 days from the time
   87  the vehicle or vessel is stored therein if the vehicle or vessel
   88  is more than 3 years of age or after 50 days following the time
   89  the vehicle or vessel is stored therein if the vehicle or vessel
   90  is 3 years of age or less. The sale shall be at public sale for
   91  cash. If the date of the sale was not included in the notice
   92  required in subsection (4), notice of the sale shall be given to
   93  the person in whose name the vehicle or vessel is registered and
   94  to all persons claiming a lien on the vehicle or vessel as shown
   95  on the records of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor
   96  Vehicles or of any corresponding agency in any other state in
   97  which the vehicle is identified through a records check of the
   98  National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or an equivalent
   99  commercially available system as being titled. The towing
  100  storage operator, through a third-party notification service
  101  approved by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles,
  102  shall send notice shall be sent by certified mail to the owner
  103  of the vehicle or vessel and the person having the recorded lien
  104  on the vehicle or vessel at the address shown on the records of
  105  the registering agency and shall be mailed not less than 15 days
  106  before the date of the sale. After diligent search and inquiry,
  107  if the name and address of the registered owner or the owner of
  108  the recorded lien cannot be ascertained, the requirements of
  109  notice by mail may be dispensed with. In addition to the notice
  110  by mail, public notice of the time and place of sale shall be
  111  made by publishing a notice thereof one time, at least 10 days
  112  before prior to the date of the sale, in a newspaper of general
  113  circulation in the county in which the sale is to be held. The
  114  proceeds of the sale, after payment of reasonable towing and
  115  storage charges, and costs of the sale, in that order of
  116  priority, shall be deposited with the clerk of the circuit court
  117  for the county if the owner or lienholder is absent, and the
  118  clerk shall hold such proceeds subject to the claim of the owner
  119  or lienholder legally entitled thereto. The clerk shall be
  120  entitled to receive 5 percent of such proceeds for the care and
  121  disbursement thereof. The certificate of title issued under this
  122  law shall be discharged of all liens unless otherwise provided
  123  by court order. The owner or lienholder may file a complaint
  124  after the vehicle or vessel has been sold in the county court of
  125  the county in which it is stored. Upon determining the
  126  respective rights of the parties, the court may award damages,
  127  attorney’s fees, and costs in favor of the prevailing party.
  128         (10) Persons who provide services pursuant to this section
  129  shall permit:
  130         (a) A vehicle or vessel owner, a lienholder, or an owners,
  131  lienholders, insurance company representative, upon presentation
  132  of documentation of ownership or recorded claim of lien,
  133  including the vehicle or vessel registration, lease or contract,
  134  title certificate, electronic title, or lien sale notice; or
  135         (b) An agent of the vehicle or vessel owner
  136  representatives, or their agents, which agency is evidenced by
  137  an original writing acknowledged by the owner before a notary
  138  public or other person empowered by law to administer oaths,
  140  immediately upon his or her arrival at the storage facility and
  141  before payment of any charges, to inspect the towed vehicle or
  142  vessel and shall release to the owner, lienholder, or agent the
  143  vehicle, vessel, or all personal property not affixed to the
  144  vehicle or vessel which was in the vehicle or vessel at the time
  145  the vehicle or vessel came into the custody of the person
  146  providing such services. Upon receiving the documentation
  147  required under paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) and payment of the
  148  towing and storage charges, the person providing such services
  149  must release the vehicle or vessel to the owner, lienholder, or
  150  agent who paid the charges.
  151         (14)(a) For purposes of this section, the term “third-party
  152  notification service” means a qualified business entity that,
  153  upon a request submitted through a website by a towing-storage
  154  operator:
  155         1. Accesses the Department of Highway Safety and Motor
  156  Vehicles’ database and the National Motor Vehicle Title
  157  Information System to obtain any owner, lienholder, or insurer
  158  information necessary for sending a notice required by this
  159  section;
  160         2. Electronically generates, and provides for the printing
  161  and mailing of, the notice on behalf of the towing-storage
  162  operator;
  163         3. Electronically returns tracking information or other
  164  proof of mailing and delivery of the notice to the towing
  165  storage operator; and
  166         4. Electronically reports to the Department of Highway
  167  Safety and Motor Vehicles, through an electronic data exchange
  168  process that uses the Internet, the following information, as
  169  applicable, related to the notice:
  170         a.The vehicle identification number or vessel hull
  171  identification number;
  172         b.The license plate number;
  173         c.The name and address of the towing-storage operator;
  174         d.The physical location of the vehicle or vessel;
  175         e.The date of the tow;
  176         f.The amount of towing and storage charges owed when the
  177  notice is generated; and
  178         g.The date the notice is mailed and delivered.
  179         (b) A third-party notification service must apply to the
  180  Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and be approved
  181  in order to provide notices under this section. The department
  182  shall prescribe the format for such applications. The department
  183  may approve a third-party notification service applicant as
  184  qualified to provide the services described in paragraph (a) if
  185  the applicant:
  186         1. Provides the department with a performance bond in the
  187  amount of $1 million issued by a surety company authorized to do
  188  business in this state;
  189         2. Submits an acceptable level 2 internal control and data
  190  security audit, or the equivalent, from an independent certified
  191  public accountant licensed in this state, which audit must have
  192  been conducted within 1 year before applying to the department;
  193  and
  194         3. Successfully demonstrates its ability to electronically
  195  report to the department the required information related a
  196  towing-storage notice through an electronic data exchange
  197  process that uses the Internet.
  199  To remain eligible to provide notices under this section, an
  200  approved third-party notification service must annually provide
  201  the department with proof it has maintained the performance bond
  202  required under subparagraph 1. and must annually submit to the
  203  department an acceptable audit required under subparagraph 2.
  204  which was conducted within 1 year after the previously submitted
  205  audit.
  206         (c) The department may deny, suspend, or revoke approval of
  207  a third-party notification service if the department determines
  208  that the third-party notification service has committed an act
  209  of fraud or misrepresentation related to a notice required by
  210  this section.
  211         (d) A third-party notification service must maintain all
  212  records related to providing notices under this section for 5
  213  years and allow the department to inspect and copy such records
  214  upon request. The records may be maintained in electronic
  215  format.
  216         (e) In the event there are no third-party notification
  217  services approved by the department, the towing-storage operator
  218  may send any notice required by this section on its own behalf
  219  and must, upon submission of an application for a certificate of
  220  title or certificate of destruction, submit proof of compliance
  221  with this section.
  222         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2019.
  224  ================= T I T L E  A M E N D M E N T ================
  225  And the title is amended as follows:
  226         Delete everything before the enacting clause
  227  and insert:
  228                        A bill to be entitled                      
  229         An act relating to towing-storage operator liens;
  230         amending s. 713.78, F.S.; requiring certain lien
  231         notices be sent through a third-party notification
  232         service; deleting a provision authorizing the award of
  233         attorney fees to the prevailing party in court
  234         proceedings determining the respective rights of
  235         owners or lienholders of vehicles or vessels and
  236         towing-storage operators; revising requirements for
  237         the inspection and release of vehicles or vessels and
  238         personal property in such vehicles or vessels;
  239         defining the term “third-party notification service”;
  240         requiring third-party notification services to apply
  241         to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
  242         for approval; authorizing the department to approve an
  243         application if certain conditions are met; requiring
  244         approved third-party notification services to provide
  245         the department with proof that it has maintained the
  246         performance bond; requiring approved third-party
  247         notification services to submit a specified annual
  248         audit to the department; authorizing the department to
  249         deny, suspend, or revoke its approval under certain
  250         circumstances; requiring a third-party notification
  251         service to maintain certain records for a specified
  252         period and allow for the inspection and copying of
  253         such records by the department; authorizing towing
  254         storage operators to send notices on their own behalf
  255         if there are no approved third-party notification
  256         services; providing an effective date.