How to Find Out if Your Car was Impounded by Police

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If you have ever returned to where you parked your car only to find it missing, it may cause you to panic. You may immediately think that it was stolen or that you are mistaken as to where you parked it.

But, it is highly unlikely that your car was taken, at least not in the way that you may think anyway. It is more likely that your car was towed and impounded by the police especially if it was parked illegally or you have committed a crime.

If you are not sure if your car has been impounded, you may be able to find out. Keep reading to learn more.

How to Find Out if Your Car Was Impounded by Police

When your car seemingly disappears from the place you parked it, sometimes it may be due to it being towed and impounded by the police. There are several ways to find out if this is what happened or if it has been stolen.

Depending on where you live, it may be easier than you think to find the location of your car that may have been towed and/or impounded by the police. Discovering whether your car has been stolen or towed and impounded, can help give you some relief.

If you are wondering how you can find out if your car has been impounded by the police? Keep reading to find out.

Call the Towing Company

If you parked your car in a restricted area, there will often be a sign that gives the name and contact information of the towing company. If this is the case, then you should be able to contact them to find out if they have your car.

Call the Police Department

You may also want to contact your local police department to find out if they know where your car may be. The police dispatcher can give you information about your car if you give them your vehicle’s license plate number and name.

Check the Local Website For Towed Cars

Some cities have a website that can be used for finding the location of cars that have been towed. If your city has a website for this, then all you need to do is enter your vehicle identification number or license plate number.

What are the Most Common Reasons a Car Can Be Impounded By Police?

Many people wonder what reasons the police may have to tow and impound an individual's vehicle. You should keep in mind that they typically must have probable cause to do this since it would be illegal to do so otherwise.

While some of the reasons for Towing a car may be obvious there have to be more extensive reasons for the police to impound your car. These reasons can be anything from your car not being registered to suspicion of a crime being done with your car.

Read on below for the most common reasons a car can be impounded by the police.

A Car That is Stopped and Found to be Unregistered

During a normal traffic stop, a police officer will ask for the driver to provide their license and the car's registration. If the driver cannot produce a valid registration in the state where they reside, the driver can be not only fined but the car can be impounded.

An Unlicensed Driver

Additionally, also during a normal traffic stop a police officer may discover that the driver does not have a valid driver's license. When this occurs, the driver is typically taken into custody which gives cause for the police to also impound their vehicle.

A Car That Was Towed Due to a DWI Arrest

Some of the more extensive reasons why a police officer can Impound your car is when you are found to be driving while intoxicated. In these instances, the driver is usually arrested which leads to the car being impounded.

A Car That May Have Been Used in a Crime

Another reason why your car may be impounded by the police is if they have a suspicion that the car may have been used during a crime. If this is the case, they can legally have it towed and impounded during their criminal investigation.

Can You Get Your Car Back After It Has Been Impounded by Police?

Depending on the reasons that your car was towed and impounded by the police, you may be able to get your car back. This is usually the case when the car being impounded has nothing to do with a criminal investigation or other illegal action.

In most States in the US, the courts have determined that when the police tow and impound your vehicle, they must notify you immediately. This is because a hearing must be scheduled to determine the legality of the car being impounded.

Since not all police departments provide individuals with due process in notification since they often contract out with other towing companies, the act of getting your car back may take some time. When this is the case you may need to get the advice of a legal professional.

One of the first things that you can do if your car has been towed and impounded by the police, is to request that the car be returned to you immediately. The reason for this is that if you do not make contact with the agency that towed it they may be able to claim that you have abandoned the car.

In some cases, simply asking the towing company to return your car to you may not be effective without paying Hefty fees. Because of this, you may have to take more extensive steps at the advice of an attorney.

An attorney can file a motion with the courts to have the car released to you by the towing company or by the police department that has it impounded. Depending on the reasons your car was towed, the court may rule in your favor.

Do You Have to Pay a Fee to Get Your Car Back?

You may be wondering whether or not you have to pay a fee to get your car back if it has been towed or impounded by the police. Depending on the nature of the reason your car was impounded, you may be asked to pay a fee to get it back.

In some cases, depending on the state in which you live, you may not have to pay the fees out of your pocket to get your car returned to you. Keep in mind these reasons are in most cases extenuating circumstances.

Here are a few reasons why you may not have to pay a fee to get your car back:

  • If your car was impounded illegally or the court determined that your car can no longer legally be impounded
  • If your car was impounded after being stolen
  • If your car was impounded after someone else who was driving the car committed a crime

In most cases, however, you will likely have to pay a fee to either the towing company or the police department to get your car back. This is especially true when you have done something to cause your car to be towed or impounded such as parking illegally or committing a crime yourself.

The bottom line is, if you are not sure whether or not you have to pay a fee to get your car back after it's been towed and impounded, you can always contact the police department or towing company that has your car.

Can the Police Search Your Car if They Impound it?

Another question that's often asked when a car has been towed and impounded by the police is whether or not the officer has a right to search your car. The answer to this question is somewhat simple however it may depend on the state in which you live.

In most cases, however, if your car was impounded due to an illegal activity such as a DWI, or arrest, or if you parked it illegally, the police can search your car. Keep in mind this is typically done so that they can do an inventory search to ensure that everything that is in the car stays in the car when it's returned to you.

Another thing to keep in mind is that in some states when your car has been impounded by the police, the officers are entitled to search every nook and cranny in your vehicle. However, in other states, they are only entitled to do an inventory search on anything that is in plain sight.

While there are some reasons that you could fight against an inventory search on your impounded vehicle, most law enforcement agencies have the right to do so. The best rule of thumb is to ensure that you do not do anything that will cause your car to be towed and impounded by the police.

Reference Legal Explanations

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  • "How to Find Out if Your Car was Impounded by Police". Legal Explanations. Accessed on April 19, 2024. https://legal-explanations.com/blog/how-to-find-out-if-your-car-was-impounded-by-police/.

  • "How to Find Out if Your Car was Impounded by Police". Legal Explanations, https://legal-explanations.com/blog/how-to-find-out-if-your-car-was-impounded-by-police/. Accessed 19 April, 2024

  • How to Find Out if Your Car was Impounded by Police. Legal Explanations. Retrieved from https://legal-explanations.com/blog/how-to-find-out-if-your-car-was-impounded-by-police/.