Vehicle Repossession Laws by State: Breach of Peace & More Explained

Most states adhere to the Uniform Commercial Code when it comes to vehicle repossession. The Uniform Commercial Code is a set of laws that acts as a guideline for commercial transactions. According to this code, a creditor may repossess or disable your vehicle on your property once you default on your loan or lease.

When Am I in Default?

The difference in vehicle repossession laws by state is when the creditor may disable or repossess the vehicle. Some states allow for a creditor to pursue action if you are only one day late on a payment; other states require that your payment be late by a certain number of days before a creditor can pursue repossession. Still others require that a notice of default be sent to you upon missing a payment, allowing you a grace period to bring your account current.

Breach of the Peace Laws

Most states allow vehicle repossession on private property, provided there is no “breach of the peace.” According to the National Association of Consumer Advocates, breach of the peace occurs when someone disturbs or threatens to disturb public order, causes violence, or threatens to use violence. If you see someone attempting to repossess your vehicle on your property and you protest, they have to leave rather than breach the peace.

In these cases, most creditors will then pursue a court order granting them access to your property for repossession. Creditors and auto repossession companies cannot break into a garage or fenced-in area on your property; they can repossess from your driveway or the street. Alternatively, they may follow you and repossess in a public place, such as a parking lot.

Vehicle Repossession Laws by State

The following repossession laws by state apply to any auto loan or lease in which a vehicle is used as collateral. This means that title loan repossession laws and buy-here-pay-here repossession laws follow the same guidelines.

As noted above, how quickly a creditor may begin the repossession process varies by state. Our list of repossession laws by state below includes time frames and processes for vehicle repossession. If you are worried about a late payment, it is best to get in touch with your creditor as soon as possible to ask about your options.

Alabama

  • When repossession can occur: Varies depending on the terms of your loan or lease contract; see your contract for information about your grace period and how late you can be on payments before your lender will repossess your vehicle.
  • The repossession process: A lender, lessor, or titleholder may take possession of the vehicle without a court order. It may repossess on your property or disable the vehicle, provided it does not breach the peace.
  • Sources: The Alabama Commercial Code and AlabamaLegalHelp.org

Alaska

  • When repossession can occur: After one missed payment; see your specific contract for your grace period.
  • The repossession process: Once you default on your loan or lease, the creditor may disable or repossess your car on your property. It does not need a court order to do so, as long as it does not breach the peace.
  • Sources: The Alaska State Legislature and the Alaska Legal Services Corporation

Arizona

  • When repossession can occur: After missing one payment, the lender may accelerate your auto loan, meaning you owe the entire remaining balance immediately or in the near future. Your best bet is to negotiate with your lender and bring your payments current if you are able. Otherwise, your lender can begin the process of repossession.
  • The repossession process: The creditor may repossess or disable your vehicle on your property, provided it does not breach the peace. Alternatively, the creditor may pursue legal documents giving it access to your property for repossession.
  • Sources: The Arizona State Legislature and an Arizona bankruptcy lawyer

Arkansas

  • When repossession can occur: As soon as you default on your loan or lease contract, which may be as soon as a single payment. Your individual contract should outline when your payments will be considered in default.
  • The repossession process: The creditor may repossess or disable your vehicle on your property, provided it does not cause a breach of the peace. If a breach of the peace occurs, the creditor may pursue a court order to repossess the vehicle.
  • Sources: The Arkansas Uniform Commercial Code and Arkansas Legal Services Online

California

  • When repossession can occur: A creditor may initiate repossession after one missed payment.
  • The repossession process: A creditor may repossess the vehicle on your property provided it does not breach the peace, enter any fenced or locked area, or move other vehicles to get to your car. If it is unable to access the vehicle, it may pursue a court order.
  • Sources: The California Commercial Code and the California Department of Consumer Affairs

Colorado

  • When repossession can occur: Ten days after the due date of your missed payment, the creditor may send you a notice that you are in default. If you do not make your payment within 20 days after the notice is sent, the lender may accelerate your loan, making the entire remaining amount due immediately, or it may initiate repossession.
  • The repossession process: The creditor may repossess or disable the vehicle on your property without a court order, provided it can do so without breaching the peace.
  • Sources: The Colorado Uniform Commercial Code and Colorado Legal Services, Inc.

Connecticut

  • When repossession can occur: A creditor can initiate repossession as soon as you default on your payments. However, it must give you a notice of intent to repossess at least 10 days before the scheduled date of repossession.
  • The repossession process: Once you default on your contract, the creditor may repossess or disable the vehicle on your property, provided it does not cause a breach of the peace.
  • Sources: The Connecticut Uniform Commercial Code and 2-1-1 of United Way of Connecticut

Delaware

  • When repossession can occur: As soon as you miss a payment; see your specific contract for your grace period.
  • The repossession process: The secured party can disable or repossess the car on your property without a court order, as long as it does not breach the peace.
  • Sources: The Delaware Commercial Code and Legal Services Corporation of Delaware, Inc.

Florida

  • When repossession can occur: As soon as you default on your loan; as early as one missed payment
  • The repossession process: Upon default, the creditor may take possession of or disable the vehicle on your property without legal documents, provided it does not breach the peace. Alternatively, it may obtain a court order for repossession.
  • Sources: The Florida Uniform Commercial Code and the Florida Attorney General website

Georgia

  • When repossession can occur: It depends on your specific contract, but creditors can often repossess after you miss one payment.
  • The repossession process: The creditor may disable or repossess the car on your property without legal documents if it does not cause a breach of the peace.
  • Sources: The Georgia Commercial Code and the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance

Hawaii

  • When repossession can occur: Grace periods will vary by individual contract; see your contract to determine when your payment will be considered late and how quickly repossession may begin.
  • The repossession process: The secured party may disable or repossess the vehicle on your property without a court order, provided it does not breach the peace.
  • Sources: The Hawaii Uniform Commercial Code and the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii

Idaho

  • When repossession can occur: Once you default on your loan, you will receive a notice giving you a 10-day period to make your payments current. If you do not make all payments and any associated fees within the 10-day period, the creditor may repossess your car.
  • The repossession process: The lender or lessor may repossess or disable the vehicle on your property, provided it does not breach the peace. It may also pursue legal action to repossess if necessary.
  • Sources: The Idaho Uniform Commercial Code and the Idaho State Legislature

Illinois

  • When repossession can occur: The titleholder may repossess your car after one missed payment if you default on your loan.
  • The repossession process: The secured party may repossess or disable the vehicle on your property, provided there is no breach of the peace. It can break into your car in order to repossess but cannot break into a closed or locked garage. If it is unable to repossess without a breach of the peace, it may pursue a court order granting access to your property and to the vehicle.
  • Sources: The Illinois Uniform Commercial Code and an Illinois bankruptcy lawyer

Indiana

  • When repossession can occur: The titleholder can repossess once you default on your loan, which could mean missed payments or that you are not meeting another requirement of the loan, such as maintaining insurance on the vehicle. See your specific loan or lease contract for details on what requirements you must meet to avoid repossession.
  • The repossession process: Your vehicle can be repossessed on your property, provided there is no breach of the peace. The person who repossesses the vehicle must notify the local sheriff’s office before repossessing or within two hours of repossessing and provide all details of the repossession.
  • Sources: The Indiana General Assembly and Indiana Legal Services, Inc.

Iowa

  • When repossession can occur: You must be more than 10 days late with your payment or have violated the terms of your loan or lease contract in some other way. The lessor or titleholder will then serve you with a 20-day “right to cure” notice to bring your payments current or correct another violation of your contract before repossession. This notice is not required every time you are late on a payment, but must be served at least once within the last 365 days. So, if you were late on a payment within the last year and already received this notice, the state does not require the lessor or titleholder to send it again.
  • The repossession process: The vehicle may be disabled or repossessed on your property, provided there is no breach of the peace. If this is not possible, the lessor or titleholder may pursue legal documents and assistance in repossessing the vehicle.
  • Sources: The Iowa State Legislature and Iowa Legal Aid

Kansas

  • When repossession can occur: Once your payment is 10 days late, the creditor must provide you with a “right to cure” notice. This notice will state the final date that the creditor will accept payment before repossessing and the amount you must pay to bring your loan current.
  • The repossession process: Your vehicle can be repossessed or disabled on your property without legal documents, provided there is no breach of the peace. Alternately, the titleholder can pursue legal documents and assistance to repossess the vehicle on your property.
  • Sources: The Kansas State Legislature’s Article 9 and Article 5

Kentucky

  • When repossession can occur: Once you fall behind on payments; refer to your contract for the number of payments you can miss before repossession.
  • The repossession process: The vehicle can be repossessed or disabled on your property, provided there is no breach of the peace. Alternatively, the titleholder may pursue legal documents granting permission to repossess the vehicle.
  • Sources: The Kentucky State Legislature and the Legal Aid Network of Kentucky

Louisiana

  • When repossession can occur: Once you default on your contract; your specific contract should outline what exactly constitutes default, including how late you can be on payments.
  • The repossession process: The secured party may take possession of or disable your vehicle on your property, provided there is no breach of the peace. It may also, but is not required to, obtain a court order to repossess the vehicle on your property.
  • Sources: The Louisiana State Legislature

Maine

  • When repossession can occur: After your payment is 10 days late, the secured party will send you a “right to cure” notice stating the amount you must pay to bring your loan or lease current and the required payment date. If you miss that date, the creditor may repossess. The titleholder is only required to send this notice once in a one-year time period. Thus, if you’ve been late on payments within the last year and have already received a “right to cure” notice, the titleholder may proceed with repossession without sending additional notices for future late payments.
  • The repossession process: The titleholder may repossess or disable your vehicle on your property without a court order, provided it can be done without breach of the peace. Otherwise, it may pursue legal documents granting access to your property for repossession.
  • Sources: The Maine Uniform Commercial Code and the Maine Consumer Credit Code

Maryland

  • When repossession can occur: After one missed payment. There are various laws regarding auto loans and repossessions in Maryland; depending on your contract, the titleholder may need to issue a discretionary notice at least 10 days before repossessing the vehicle.
  • The repossession process: The titleholder may repossess or disable the vehicle on your property without a court order, provided it can do so without a breach of the peace. If you do not cooperate with the repossession, the titleholder may obtain a court order granting permission to access your property and repossess the vehicle. Depending on your contract, the titleholder may be required to send you a notice via registered mail within 5 days after the repossession and/or retain the vehicle for 15 days after repossession, so you have a chance to bring your loan current and reinstate your contract.
  • Sources: The Maryland Commercial Law Code and the Maryland Department of Labor

Massachusetts

  • When repossession can occur: Your creditor must send you a notice 10 days after a missed payment notifying you of the default. You will have 21 days from the date of the notice to bring your payments current. The notice will state the amount you owe to reinstate your contract and the due date. Once you receive three or more of these notices for nonpayment or default, even if you’ve met their payment dates, the creditor is no longer required to continue sending them and may proceed with repossession after another missed payment.
  • The repossession process: The creditor may repossess the vehicle on private or public property, provided it does not breach the peace.
  • Sources: The Massachusetts State Legislature and the Massachusetts State website

Michigan

  • When repossession can occur: Once you default on your contract; see your loan or lease contract to determine what constitutes defaulting on your loan.
  • The repossession process: Michigan does not require creditors to notify you prior to repossessing your vehicle. Upon default, a creditor may repossess or disable your vehicle on your property, provided it does not breach the peace.
  • Sources: The Michigan State Legislature and a Michigan bankruptcy attorney

Minnesota

  • When repossession can occur: As soon as your payment is late, meaning as early as one day past the grace period
  • The repossession process: The creditor can disable or repossess the vehicle on your property without a court order if it does not cause a breach of the peace.
  • Sources: The Minnesota State Legislature and the Minnesota Attorney General

Mississippi

  • When repossession can occur: Once you default on your contract; your contract will have details regarding what constitutes default, such as grace periods allowed before a payment is officially late.
  • The repossession process: The titleholder may disable or repossess your vehicle on your property if it can do so without breaching the peace. Alternatively, it may pursue a court order granting access to your property for the purpose of repossession.
  • Sources: The Mississippi Uniform Commercial Code and MSLegalServices.org

Missouri

  • When repossession can occur: Once your payment is at least 10 days past due, the creditor must send you a “right to cure” notice stating how much you need to pay to bring your account current and provide a due date. It must give you at least 20 days to bring your account current before it can proceed with repossession.
  • The repossession process: The creditor may disable or repossess the vehicle on your property, as long as it does not breach the peace. Otherwise, it may secure a court order to repossess the vehicle.
  • Sources: The Missouri Uniform Commercial Code and the Missouri Division of Finance

Montana

  • When repossession can occur: As soon as you default on your loan, which may mean missing one payment; refer to your contract for details on what is considered defaulting on your loan.
  • The repossession process: If you do not live on a reservation, the creditor can repossess or disable the vehicle on your property without a court order, provided it does not breach the peace. If you do live on a reservation, the creditor must have a court order to repossess the vehicle on the reservation. However, it may wait for you to drive the vehicle off the reservation and repossess it without a court order from a parking lot while you’re in a store.
  • Sources: The Montana Uniform Commercial Code and the Montana Legal Services Association

Nebraska

  • When repossession can occur: As soon as you miss a payment, the creditor can send a “right to cure” notice giving the amount owed and a due date. The creditor must wait at least 20 days after the right to cure notice before it can begin the repossession process.
  • The repossession process: The creditor may repossess or disable the vehicle on your property without a court order, provided it can do so without a breach of the peace.
  • Sources: The Nebraska Uniform Commercial Code and the Nebraska State Legislature

Nevada

  • When repossession can occur: Your payment must be at least 30 days past due before the creditor can repossess your vehicle.
  • The repossession process: The creditor may disable or repossess your vehicle on your private property without a court order unless it causes a breach of the peace.
  • Sources: The Nevada Uniform Commercial Code

New Hampshire

  • When repossession can occur: Your payment must be at least 10 days late or later, depending on your individual contract.
  • The repossession process: The creditor may disable or repossess the vehicle on your property without a court order if it can do so without breaching the peace.
  • Sources: The New Hampshire Uniform Commercial Code and the New Hampshire Legal Aid website

New Jersey

  • When repossession can occur: Once you default on your loan; see your specific contract for details on your grace period and when your contract will be considered in default.
  • The repossession process: The vehicle can be repossessed or disabled on your property without a court order, provided there is no breach of the peace.
  • Sources: The New Jersey State Legislature and the American Bankruptcy Institute

New Mexico

  • When repossession can occur: As soon as you default on your loan; see your contract for details on your grace period and when the contract is considered in default.
  • The repossession process: The titleholder may disable or repossess the vehicle on your property without a court order, as long as it does not breach the peace.
  • Sources: The New Mexico Uniform Commercial Code and Law Help New Mexico

New York

  • When repossession can occur: Once you default on your contract; see your contract for your grace period and when your account is considered in default.
  • The repossession process: The creditor may disable or repossess your vehicle on your property without a court order if it can do so without breaching the peace.
  • Sources: The New York Uniform Commercial Code and the Better Business Bureau

North Carolina

  • When repossession can occur: Any time after you default on your contract; grace periods vary by individual contract. See your contract for specifics on when your payments will be considered late and your loan or lease in default.
  • The repossession process: The creditor can repossess or disable the vehicle on your property. North Carolina does not require a court order without a breach of the peace.
  • Sources: The North Carolina Legislature and the North Carolina Attorney General website

North Dakota

  • When repossession can occur: As early as one missed payment; see your contract for your grace period and when you will be considered in default.
  • The repossession process: The creditor can disable or repossess the vehicle on your property without a court order, provided it does not breach the peace.
  • Sources: The North Dakota Uniform Commercial Code

Ohio

  • When repossession can occur: Once you default on your payments. Your individual contract will specify what qualifies as defaulting.
  • The repossession process: The creditor may disable or repossess the car on your property, provided there is no breach of the peace.
  • Sources: The Ohio Uniform Commercial Code and the Ohio State Bar Association

Oklahoma

  • When repossession can occur: As soon as you default on your contract; grace periods will vary by individual contract.
  • The repossession process: Your vehicle may be disabled or repossessed on your property without a court order, provided there is no breach of the peace.
  • Sources: The Oklahoma Uniform Commercial Code and Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.

Oregon

  • When repossession can occur: Once you default on your contract; see your contract for your grace period and what constitutes defaulting on your loan or lease.
  • The repossession process: Your vehicle can be repossessed or disabled on your property without a court order, provided there is no breach of the peace.
  • Sources: Section UCC 9-609 of the Oregon Uniform Commercial Code and Legal Aid Services of Oregon

Pennsylvania

  • When repossession can occur: Once you fall behind on payments; your specific contract will determine though how far behind you can fall before repossession.
  • The repossession process: The creditor may repossess or disable the vehicle on your property without a court order if it can do so without breaching the peace.
  • Sources: The Pennsylvania State Legislature and the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc.

Rhode Island

  • When repossession can occur: Once your payment is 10 days late, the creditor must send you a notice stating how much is due to bring your account current and when the payment is due. If you do not make the required payment by the due date, the creditor can proceed with repossessing your car. You are only entitled to one late payment notice every 12 months; if you’ve previously been behind on a payment and received a notice, the creditor is not required to send you another one if you are late again. At that point, the company may proceed with repossession without notice.
  • The repossession process: The secured party can disable or repossess the vehicle on your property without a court order, provided it does not cause a breach of the peace.
  • Sources: The Rhode Island Automobile Repossession Act and the Rhode Island Uniform Commercial Code

South Carolina

  • When repossession can occur: Once you fall behind on your payments, depending on your contract, the creditor may be required to send you a “Notice of Right to Cure,” allowing you 20 days to make your payments current. If you do not bring your payments current by the due date, the creditor may repossess the vehicle.
  • The repossession process: The creditor may disable or repossess the vehicle on your property without a court order if it can do so without breaching the peace.
  • Sources: The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs and the South Carolina Code of Laws

South Dakota

  • When repossession can occur: Once you default on your payments, the creditor may be required to send you a notice before repossessing or selling the vehicle. See your individual contract for specifics about any notices your creditor is required to provide to you.
  • The repossession process: The creditor may disable or repossess the vehicle on your property without a court order, provided it can do so without a breach of the peace.
  • Sources: Section 57A-9-609 and Section 57A-9-614 of the South Dakota State Legislature

Tennessee

  • When repossession can occur: Once you default on your contract; see your loan or lease documents for information on grace periods.
  • The repossession process: The lender may disable or repossess the vehicle on your property without a court order, as long as it doesn’t cause a breach of the peace.
  • Sources: The Tennessee Uniform Commercial Code and a Tennessee bankruptcy attorney

Texas

  • When repossession can occur: As soon as you default on your payments; see your loan or lease for details on your grace period and when a payment will be considered late.
  • The repossession process: The secured party can disable or repossess the vehicle without a court order if it can do so without breaching the peace.
  • Sources: The Texas State Constitution and TexasLawHelp.org

Utah

  • When repossession can occur: Any time after you default on your payments
  • The repossession process: The secured party may disable or repossess the vehicle on your property without a court order, provided it does not breach the peace.
  • Sources: The Utah State Legislature and a Utah bankruptcy attorney

Vermont

  • When repossession can occur: It depends on your individual contract, but repossession can often begin as soon as you miss a payment.
  • The repossession process: The secured party may repossess or disable the vehicle on your property without a court order if it can do so without breaching the peace.
  • Sources: The Vermont Uniform Commercial Code and Vermont’s Legal Help website

Virginia

  • When repossession can occur: You must be at least 10 days late on your payment. The creditor does not have to send you notice before repossession.
  • The repossession process: The vehicle can be disabled or repossessed on your property without a court order, as long as there is no breach of the peace.
  • Sources: The Virginia Commercial Code and the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc.

Washington

  • When repossession can occur: Once you default on your loan or lease; see your specific contract for your grace period and when your payment will be considered late. The creditor does not have to notify you before repossessing the vehicle.
  • The repossession process: The creditor can repossess or disable the vehicle on your property without a court order, as long as there is no breach of the peace.
  • Sources: The Washington State Legislature and the Washington State Attorney General

Washington, D.C.

  • When repossession can occur: As soon as you miss a payment, the creditor may send you a notice of intent to repossess. It must send the notice at least 10 days before the repossession takes place.
  • The repossession process: The vehicle can be disabled or repossessed on your property without a court order, provided there is no breach of the peace.
  • Sources: The Code of the District of Columbia and Washington, D.C. consumer protection attorneys

West Virginia

  • When repossession can occur: Once your payment is five days late, the creditor may send you notice of repossession, depending on whether or not your contract requires it to do so. Otherwise, the company may begin the repossession process.
  • The repossession process: The secured party may disable or repossess the vehicle on your property if it can do so without breaching the peace.
  • Sources: Section 46-9-609 and Section 46A-2-106 of the West Virginia Legislature

Wisconsin

  • When repossession can occur: It depends on your individual contract, but often, your payment must be at least 10 days late. The creditor must send you a “right to cure” notice and wait at least 15 days before repossessing your car.
  • The repossession process: The secured party may disable or repossess your car on your property without a court order, as long as it doesn’t cause a breach of the peace.
  • Sources: The Wisconsin State Legislature and a Wisconsin consumer protection attorney

Wyoming