State close to tightening deadlines to remove abandoned vehicles

  • CHELSEA JENSEN/West Hawaii Today

    An abandoned vehicle is towed down Hina-Lani Street in Kailua-Kona.

A bill nearing a final vote in the state Legislature would require counties to dispose of abandoned vehicles on public roads within 10 business days of abandonment.

House Bill 2442 would impose tighter deadlines on counties working to remove abandoned vehicles, as well as additional protocols for how the confiscated vehicles should be handled.


Hawaii statutes currently require counties only to take abandoned vehicles into custody to be “disposed of” without any time frame specified.

The current language of the bill is taken largely from Senate Bill 2479, which replaced earlier drafts of the bill that used similar, yet notably different, terms.

For example, a previous draft of the bill would have removed language requiring counties to send a notification to the registered owner of an abandoned vehicle, to be replaced by a simple requirement for owners to reclaim their vehicle within 20 business days of repossession. The current draft, however, retains the existing requirement to notify owners, but only if the abandoned vehicle is reported stolen.

In addition, the bill removes a requirement for counties to dispose of abandoned vehicles through a public auction. The bill makes no specification as to how the vehicles should be disposed.

Other changes the bill makes to existing law include slight additions to what constitutes a derelict vehicle. Specifically, the bill states if a vehicle’s owner has not transferred the title or registration into his or her name within 30 days of the notice of transfer’s submission, the vehicle would be considered abandoned. Any vehicle that has not been registered for the past 12 months also would qualify.

While many people and organizations issued statements in support of the bill in testimony during several hearings, some groups voiced disapproval — notably Hawaii County’s Department of Environmental Management, which is in charge of disposing of abandoned vehicles on the island.

“Requiring (Hawaii County) to take all abandoned vehicles into custody within 10 business days of abandonment imposes a burden on (the county) to meet this timeline while juggling its manpower and budgetary constraints,” wrote William Kucharski, Environmental Management director.

Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa agreed, writing: “Realistically, the volume of abandoned vehicles that have been reported exceeds counties’ ability to remove them within a 10-day period. To my knowledge, all of the counties’ abandoned vehicles programs are understaffed and budgets are stretched to limits.”

Arakawa said he would support the bill if the 10-day provision was removed.


The bill goes before its final committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, during a hearing today that will include additional testimony. If it passes the committee, it will go to a final Senate vote.

Email Michael Brestovansky at

  1. Sara Steiner-jackson March 29, 2018 7:45 am

    You have to remove the abandond cars quickly. Otherwise they are vandalized the first week and burned ‘ the second week, causing emergency responders to waste time and resources putting out fire, and leaving toxic glassy mess to spoil environment. Then the county finally comes along to tow the carcass??

    Ridiculous. The county gets 4 million bucks every year to deal wih this. Tow the darn vehicles to the dump when they are left on the road more than one day. Let the owners come pick them up from there, if they want. Use some common sense please!!!

    1. Sara Steiner-jackson March 29, 2018 7:50 am

      The county is burdened with its own bureaucracy. There are hundreds if not a thousand employees sitting behind desks doing who-knows-what. Lots of administrators but yet there is only a few dudes running around actually doing the physical necessary work, like cleaning and maintenance of community center and picking up dead vehicles.

      Time to re-evaluate the jobs and become an effective helpful county of hawaii

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