Towed at owners expense

28 Jan 2004 | Lance Cpl. John E. Lawson Jr.

Drivers: be warned. The Provost Marshal’s Office here is on the prowl for abandoned vehicles and expired inspections, registrations and permits.
The “orange sticker” impound notice program provides drivers with a reminder to keep their vehicles in safe condition and their registrations up-to-date.

Master Sgt. Richard Templeton, services chief, Provost Marshall’s Office here, said PMO “backed off” the program during recent large-scale deployments to prevent impounding vehicles belonging to deployed Marines and sailors.

“We’re not going to impound the vehicle while the Marine is in Iraq,” or on another deployment, he said, adding that a lot of Marines were deployed rapidly, and therefore did not have time to properly store their vehicles.

But now that many Marines have returned from large-scale deployments, PMO is picking up where it left off, issuing an average of 70 “orange sticker” impound notices each month.

One of the main reasons a vehicle would receive an impound notice is if it appears to be abandoned, Templeton explained. Vehicle disrepair, such as flat tires, a broken windshield and expired Department of Defense decals are all signs a vehicle has been abandoned.

Derelict vehicles may be safety hazards and they take up space. He said they also don’t equate to good security for anti-terrorism force protection. “All suspicious vehicles are checked out,” he added.

Notices are also issued when a vehicle has an expired state inspection, state registration, or DOD permit.

Once an impound notice has been issued, the owner has 72 hours to correct the violation and contact PMO. If not contacted, a military policeman from the PMO impound lot rechecks the vehicle’s status, Templeton stated.

If the problem has not been corrected, the vehicle will be towed off base and impounded. The vehicle’s owner will incur all fees for towing and vehicle storage. The vehicle will not be permitted back on base until the violation is corrected.

The main goal of the program is safety, Templeton said. “Sometimes the owner doesn’t get their state inspection renewed because they forget. Sometimes it’s because there is something wrong with the car,” he explained. Problems with the vehicle could be a traffic safety hazard.

Templeton also pointed out that insurance is required for state registration renewal. Sometimes owners don’t get their registration renewed on time because they just forget, or they don’t get it renewed because they are uninsured drivers: another problem, both on base and in the civilian community, he said.

If the vehicle is in violation because they simply did not realize they were in violation or that their registration or inspection was expired, then the notice serves as a reminder, he said.

This program has been around for a long time, he said. It is designed to keep unauthorized vehicles and vehicles not in accordance with regulations from remaining aboard Camp Lejeune.

“We’re here to help the Marines and everyone that works or lives aboard the base. We do everything we can to contact the owner so they can get their vehicle taken care of before it gets towed,” Templeton said.

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