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StarBulletin.com

Expired safety sticker can be grounds for tow


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POSTED: Friday, October 30, 2009

QUESTION: In October my son's vehicle was towed during the early morning hours for an expired safety check (expired September). The car was otherwise parked legally on Kaimalie Street in Ewa Beach in front of our home. What is the statute or ordinance that allows for the towing of vehicles with expired safety stickers? We were not aware that the city had the authority to tow vehicles for this kind of violation. KGMB-TV did a story on Oct. 15 about cars being towed from Kaimalie Street because of complaints from neighbors, but also said a police officer's car, also with an expired safety sticker, was not towed.

ANSWER: The authority given police to have a car towed because of an expired safety sticker is found in Section 15-13.9(a)(21)(B) of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu.

That section says officers and employees of the Honolulu Police Department or city Department of Customer Services are authorized to remove, or have removed, a vehicle from a street, highway or pedestrian mall if, among other reasons, it is left unattended or parked without a valid vehicle registration emblem or with an expired one; or without a valid safety sticker or with an expired one.

It was just three years ago that the City Council added vehicles with expired or missing registration emblems or safety stickers, or those without valid license plates, to the list of towable offenses.

According to the bill proposing the additions, the problem was that many vehicles parked for “;extended periods of time”; on or along public streets are not registered or have expired registration emblems and safety stickers, or noncurrent license plates.

The justification given in 2006 was that, “;Unless the vehicle is deemed abandoned, which can be a time-consuming and sometimes onerous task, the city's current abandoned vehicles ordinances does not allow the police department or the department of customer services to tow such vehicles and remove them”; from public areas.

The intent was to allow HPD and the city to remove such vehicles “;more efficiently.”;

Although your son's vehicle was not abandoned, it basically fell victim to a police sweep.

Officers have the discretion to just cite a vehicle for an expired safety sticker, or to cite and tow, said HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu.

In this case, “;The enforcement on Kaimalie Street was in response to numerous complaints,”; she said.

Regarding the HPD officer's car not being towed, Yu said the car had a valid safety check, but the current safety decal had been stolen, leaving the expired decal showing.

QUESTION: I received an e-mail saying it was from the IRS, but I don't think it's legitimate. It says “;important changes in IRS Employers W-2 forms.”; Plus, it says, reply to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Can you check on this?

ANSWER: Here's the answer from the Internal Revenue Service: “;The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail.”;

That means it does not request any personal information via e-mail. If you receive an e-mail directing you to an IRS Web site, do not reply, do not open any attachments and do not click on any links.

You're advised to report suspicious e-mails and bogus IRS Web sites to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Forward the message as received or provide the Internet header on the e-mail.