The Times is doing a series of articles highlighting common laws and rules. Today, we examine the law prohibiting junk vehicles. To suggest a law for The Times to highlight, contact the writer.
While families are allowed to have multiple vehicles, Indiana law prohibits them from having even one junk vehicle visible on their property. In addition, cities, towns and subdivisions often have junk vehicle ordinances or covenants that mirror state law or are even tougher than it.
Porter County police enforce Indiana law, which defines a junk vehicle as one that is at least three years old, mechanically inoperable and left on private property continuously in a place that's visible from public property for more than 20 days.
Sheriff David Lain said police did a sweeping crackdown a few years ago and continue to enforce the law periodically as the problem resurfaces. If somebody reports a junk vehicle, an officer will try to get the vehicle owner to cooperate. If the officer can't get compliance, the vehicle will be tagged for removal and towed.
"If people see vehicles that are detracting from the beauty of Porter County, give us a call and we'll take care of it as long as it fits the statute," Lain said.
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Indiana law does allow some exceptions, such as storing of a vehicle belonging to an active member of the U.S. armed forces who is on active duty assignment and the storing of a vehicle registered as an antique vehicle.
But the average person who has one or more junk cars littering their property would be better off to sell such cars to an auto salvage company, many of which will tow them for free and pay the owner, police said. They said people who have a junk vehicle they don't want to get rid of because they plan to restore it should keep it in a garage or hide it so it can't be seen from a public location, such as a roadway.
Porter County also prohibits trucks, trailers and commercial vehicles from being parked on residential roadways, as do some municipalities such as Valparaiso.
In Portage, Police Sgt. Keith Hughes said problems with junk cars crop up from time to time. He said people should make sure all their vehicles work, are properly plated and are parked properly -- not on a sidewalk or in a front yard. In Portage, vehicles can't be parked on a roadway for more than 48 hours without being moved.
There are many more regulations which vary by area, and anyone who is concerned that a neighbor's vehicles are illegal can call the local police department.