Stiffer or More Relaxed, Rules in Nebraska and Nevada Allow You to Title Abandoned Cars

Carhenge 7 photos
Photo: Wikimedia
Carhenge in Nebraska1957-chevrolet-bel-air1960-chevrolet-bel-air-bubble-top1964-pontiac-gto-Nebraska1967-chevrolet-camaro-convertibleUnrestored classic chevy ambulance
The Brits have the Stonehenge, but as a true modern replica of that stays the Carhenge from Nebraska, a state where only law enforcement can title an abandoned vehicle. Over in Nevada, things are a little bit more relaxed, but only when it comes to those relics abandoned on private properties.
While some states have straightforward approaches to handling the problem of abandoned vehicles, others just made them more complicated, to the point that they are buried in such relics. Nebraska, for instance, took a moderate approach, either by grabbing cars or by giving them for free. Well, not exactly for free since, the one who desires them has to pay some taxes. In Nevada, on the other hand, things are easier.

Welcome where the West begins

Also known as the Cornhusker state, Nebraska is one of those places where agriculture was done by hand by the pioneers in the past. This Midwestern state is known for having a lighthouse even though there are no seas or oceans around it. Another landmark is the Carhenge, a replica after the famous Stonehenge from the UK, made out of cars instead of stones.

In Nebraska, if a car is left unattended six hours on a public property, or 24 on a private one, without license plates, it is automatically considered abandoned. The rules are going up to seven days if left with license plates on, without the land owner's permission, or to 30 days in law enforcement custody.

Getting a title for that abandoned vehicle might be tricky, and it depends on who left it or how it ended up there. If it was towed, the towing company must announce law enforcement after 24 hours that it has it, and every other 30 days afterward. After 90 days, that vehicle may be put for sale, and the authorities will issue a title for it to the buyer. As for the money, well, they won't go into the tow company's pockets, or at least not all of them. After it recovers its costs for tow and storage, the rest of them will go to the authorities, which will keep it for five years, waiting for the owner to claim the sum. If they don't show up, the money will go into school projects.

Photo: restore a muscle car/eBay
But if you buy a property and find an abandoned vehicle that you don't want to give away, you may apply for a bonded title. First, make sure that you can't get a title or a bill of sale from the previous owner.

But maybe the vehicle was there for decades, and not even the previous landlord didn't know about it. Now what? Just apply for a bonded title. Get in touch with the local DMV or Sherrif's office to obtain the last known owner, send him a letter, and if they don't answer, then the process of getting a bonded title is similar to those in any other state. You'll end up with a stamp on the document that will stay there for three years. Be careful, though; if there is a lien on the car and the lienholder is 10 years old or younger, the authorities won't issue a bonded title. In other words, just make sure that you didn't have that land from a child.

The Area 51 State

Yes, we know that Nevada is known as the Silver State thanks to America's largest silver deposit from Comstock Lode. We know that it is the fourth gold producer in the world and the largest in the U.S. Yet, many people are usually coming to Nevada for two things: Area 51 and Las Vegas. And you know what they say: "What happens in Vegas..." Or, what's abandoned in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Nevada has some patience with stranded vehicles and considers them abandoned only after 72 hours. Any officer of the Metropolitan Police Department, the Department of Public Safety, or the Department of Economic and Urban Development unit may affix a Notice of Infraction to the vehicle and may mark one or more tires with the current date. The authorities will have it removed if the car is still there 72 hours after the Notice was placed. But if the vehicle is considered a danger for other drivers or pedestrians, it will be removed right away.

Photo: lando330/eBay
To title an abandoned vehicle on private property, if the car is older than ten years, the owner of that property, must send a petition to the Director of the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. Prior to that, the petitioner has to prove that they tried to contact the car's owner via certified mail by showing a return receipt to the owner's last known address. They will also have to show an estimated value of that vehicle obtained from a relevant source, such as the Kelly Blue Book. Before filling the specific form, the petitioner has to also know other relevant information such as vehicle make and model, color, and VIN.

For short, in Nevada is easier to get a title on an abandoned vehicle if it's on your property. You don't even need a court order.
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Editor's note: The information in this article is not legal advice; for any info regarding abandoned vehicles rules, refer to local law enforcement agencies.

About the author: Tudor Serban
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Tudor started his automotive career in 1996, writing for a magazine while working on his journalism degree. From Pikes Peaks to the Moroccan desert to the Laguna Seca, he's seen and done it all.
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