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Louisville looks to extend tow lot fee amnesty for stolen cars

Impounded cars in a lot with a chain link fence and barbed wire
Roberto Roldan
Louisville's impound lot is located off Frankfort Avenue.

Louisville Metro already has a 21-day period allowing people to collect their stolen vehicle for free from the city impound lot, but for some that may not be enough.

Louisville Metro Council appears poised to approve an ordinance expanding tow lot fee amnesty for people who’s vehicles are stolen and impounded.

People typically have to pay a base fee to get their car out of the city’s impound lot, plus additional penalties for each day it sits there. But there’s a 21-day grace period for anyone who can show their vehicle was reported stolen. The proposed ordinance would extend that period for people who can’t claim their car within 21 days.

The Louisville Metro Police Department, which operates the impound lot on Frankfort Avenue, is supporting the change. Assistant Chief Steve Healy said at a committee meeting last week that it may cost the city a bit of lost revenue, but it’s worth the price.

“These individuals that have had their car stolen, they’ve already been victimized and it’s already a traumatic event for them,” Healy said. “If they have situations that are out of their control, I think we should have the autonomy to waive those fees.”

The proposed ordinance would allow LMPD to waive fees, no matter how long the car has been impounded, for people with “special circumstances,” which include:

  • Hospitalization
  • Military leave
  • Any delay in “receiving necessary paperwork through probate of the owner of the vehicle”
  • Delay in receiving guardianship or power of attorney paperwork of the owner
  • Delay due to disputed insurance claims
  • Physical incapacitation
  • Any other physical, legal or financial issue that prohibits the owner from retrieving their vehicle

The ordinance received bipartisan support from Metro Council’s Public Safety Committee this week. The full council is expected to take a final vote on it Thursday.
District 13 Republican Dan Seum Jr., one of the ordinance’s co-sponsors, noted the proposal also includes an appeals process. Anyone who’s denied amnesty can petition police officials to have it overturned.

“We did have a couple constituents in my district come out, they were one day late and were going to have to pay $1,000 and they’d already been victimized,” Seum said.

Council Member Rick Blackwell, a District 12 Democrat, called the proposal “common sense legislation.”

Democratic Caucus Chair Paula McCraney of District 7 thanked the police department and Jefferson County Attorney’s office for working with the council to provide some relief to victims.

“We are giving them grace and they will be able to eventually get their cars without being victimized again,” McCraney said.

Thousands of vehicles were stolen in Louisville last year, according to the Courier Journal, many of them Kias and Hyundais, due to a security defect.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.

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