How Long Before A Car Is Considered Abandoned In Washington State?

I've been guilty of this when I was younger and I didn't know the rules. As a poor disc jockey, my car was always breaking down and I'd leave it until I could pick it up.


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I see vehicles all over the Tri-Cities that haven't moved in weeks and have often thought about how these vehicles are still sitting there after all this time.

I do know that some owners wake up to sometimes find their vehicles towed away.

They're in shock but there are laws that do govern abandoned vehicles in Washington State.

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In Washington State, a car is considered abandoned under certain circumstances outlined by the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.55.010. According to the law, a vehicle is considered abandoned if it meets one or more of the following criteria:

  1. The vehicle is left unattended on public property for a period exceeding 24 hours.
  2. The vehicle is left on private property without the owner's consent for a period exceeding 24 hours.
  3. The vehicle is illegally parked on a public highway or road for a period exceeding 24 hours.
  4. The vehicle is declared a junk vehicle or a derelict vehicle by a law enforcement officer or the appropriate government authority.

WA Law also states an abandoned vehicle is a vehicle that has been impounded by a registered tow truck operator and held in his or her possession for at least 120 consecutive hours (5 days).


So as you can see, in Washington State, you don't have much time before your car would be "technically" abandoned.

It's always good to know the law if something does happen to your car or vehicle and you have to leave it for a period of time on private or public property.

It's always best to get a buddy and get the car towed ASAP.

You can read more about the laws here.

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