How to Get Your Car Back After It Has Been Impounded
When your car is towed away by the police and stored temporarily, it has been impounded. This generally happens when your vehicle is deemed to be a hazard to public safety (such as when you’re driving a substantial amount above the speed limit or if you’re arrested for a DUI on a public highway). Your vehicle can also be impounded if it’s suspected to be part of a criminal investigation. Whatever the reason, getting the vehicle released from the impound lot is a top priority for owners. Follow these steps to get your car back quickly.
- Find out where you need to go. If you were given an impound slip at the time of the traffic stop, follow the instructions on it to determine your next step. If not, contact the police department. Often you’ll need to appear at the police station or another location to obtain the correct paperwork to get your car released.
- Collect your information. When you contact the police department, ask what documents you’ll need to show or what information you’ll need to provide. Picture ID is almost always needed, and you may also be required to give the vehicle’s VIN number or license plate number when you get to the impound lot. Some municipalities also require you to show your title, registration, and/or proof of insurance.
- Bring the fee. Expect to pay a fee to get your car out of impound, and usually a pretty hefty one. The amount you’ll need to pay will generally include an administrative fee (to cover the city’s costs), the fee for towing, and the fee for storage (which is dependent on how long you wait to get your car out of impound, so it’s in your best interest to get it back as soon as possible). Make sure you ask what forms of payment are accepted for fees. Some municipalities may not accept personal checks, while others might require cash or money order.
- Budget enough time. Getting a car out of impound usually isn’t a quick in-and-out job. Impound lots are often busy locations, and it takes time to check over each person’s documentation. Make sure you’ve blocked off enough time from work or other commitments before you go.
Having a car impounded can be a frustrating, embarrassing, and expensive experience. But if you’re courteous and follow the directions you’re give to the letter, it doesn’t have to take a long time to get your vehicle back.