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Car Impounded After California DUI

The financial consequences of a DUI in California can make it nearly impossible for low-income or working class people to recover. In addition to the fines and fees, anyone convicted of a DUI will also have to pay for probation, an ignition interlock device (IID), DUI school, and higher insurance rates.  

However, even if you are arrested for a DUI and have not had your day in court, you may have your car impounded. To get your car out of impound, you may have to pay tow fees and impound lot fees. This can amount to hundreds of dollars even if your car was impounded less than one day. If you can't pick up your car for a few weeks, you may end up owing thousands. 

If you have questions about the collateral costs of a DUI, talk to your East Bay DUI defense lawyer for advice. Your attorney can act quickly to help you keep your license and avoid the worst penalties of a DUI conviction. 

Can the Police Tow My Car After a DUI Arrest?

If you are arrested for a DUI in California, the police can have your vehicle towed away. In some cases, the police have some discretion whether or not to call a tow company. However, this is generally where there is a sober person to drive the car and the car is in a safe location.

Under California Vehicle Code 22651(h), a police officer may remove a vehicle if the officer arrests a person driving or in control of a vehicle for an alleged offense and the officer takes the person into custody. This could include an arrest for drunk driving. Other reasons that your car may be towed or impounded include:  

  • If a vehicle is left unattended upon a bridge, viaduct, or causeway and constitutes an obstruction to traffic.
  • If a vehicle is parked or left standing upon a highway in a position so as to obstruct the normal movement of traffic or in a condition so as to create a hazard to other traffic upon the highway.
  • If a vehicle is found reported stolen.
  • If a vehicle is illegally parked and is blocking a private driveway.
  • If a vehicle is illegally parked so as to prevent access by firefighting equipment to a fire hydrant.

If you have a sober driver present, the police may allow the sober driver to drive the car, with your consent. If you are parked in a safe area, and not the side of a highway, you may have a chance to convince the officer to allow you to leave the car but it may be unlikely. 

Impound After DUI Sentencing

The judge may also be able to have your car impounded after a DUI conviction as part of your sentencing. Impounding is generally enforced for multiple DUIs but may not be required for a 1st-time DUI. For a second DUI within a 10-year-period, your car may be impounded for up to 30 days. For a 3rd DUI, your vehicle may be impounded for up to 90 days. 

Getting Your Car Back After Release

Generally, only the registered owner of the vehicle will be able to get the car out of the impound lot. If you are the registered driver, you may not be able to get the car until you get released and have the money to get the vehicle. If you know where your car is being held, call to find out the opening hours, the amount to release the vehicle, and what types of payment are accepted. If you do not know where your vehicle is, contact the law enforcement agency that made the arrest

You may have to get a release first from the police department before you can get your car from the tow company. To get your vehicle release from the police, you may need to provide: 

The cost of getting your car released can include a number of additional administrative fees, including: 

  • Towing fee
  • Daily storage fee
  • After hours fees
  • Indoor storage fees
  • Lien fees

What happens if I don't pick up my car from the impound lot?

You may not have the money to pick up your car. After a few weeks in the impound lot, the fees to get the car out may be more than the car is even worth. If you fail to pick up your vehicle, the lot may sell your car at an auction. Ask your lawyer about the maximum removal time to make sure your car doesn't get sold before you can pick it up. 

East Bay DUI Attorney Representation

If you are arrested anywhere in Contra Costa or Alameda counties, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the DUI laws and DMV regulations. With over 37 years of DUI experience, Lynn Gorelick understands how a DUI will affect your ability to drive. Contact our office today for help with your DUI.

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