No one wants to experience being arrested for a DUI. On top of being humiliated and taken into custody, the arresting officer will immediately confiscate your driver's license and you will have to leave your car. Depending on where and when you are arrested, your car may not be safe or legally parked where you were pulled over and in most cases, will have to be moved. What happens to your car at that point will vary dependent upon the circumstances. If this is your first offense, your car may not be impounded or confiscated. However, there are certain elements that, if present, can result in your car being impounded at the scene of the arrest. In California, if your blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, is greater than .10%, the officer present has the right to impound your car. They may not do this in every case however they have the legal right to consider this as an action they can take. Also, if you refuse to have your BAC tested with a breathalyzer or blood test, your car can be impounded, on top of the other penalties for refusal, which include a longer license suspension.
Generally, if your car is impounded after you are arrested for a DUI, it will remain in impound for at least five days, but potentially for much longer, depending on the circumstances of the case and the city where you were arrested. If you have two or more DUI convictions, you can have your car impounded for up to 15 days. This is at a cost to you and this cost can be significant, depending on where it is impounded to and how long it remains there. There is usually a towing fee, a based fee for holding your car, a daily fee for storage and a release fee. The cost may vary based on how big your vehicle is. For example, motorcycles will have a cheaper daily storage fee. However, even if impounded for only five days, the cost of your impound could cost hundreds of dollars overall. It is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you have been arrested for a DUI and your car has been impounded. There may be action you can take to have your car released without accruing a large sum of fees. In any case, you will have to pay any standing fees resulting from the impoundment and present a valid driver's license to have the car released to you, if you are the legal owner.
Obviously, if you share a car with someone or you were driving someone else's car at the time you got your DUI, it would be unfair for the car to be taken away and held from him or her. Unfortunately, it does not matter whether or not you own the car when it is impounded. However, the impound lot will release the car to the registered owner under the agreement that they do not allow you to drive the car until the original impoundment period ends. Stolen cars may also be released to their rightful owner after impound. It is very important to keep in mind that while your car can legally be impounded after a DUI arrest, under certain circumstances, it isn't automatic or mandatory as your license suspension will be. The arresting officer has some discretion when it comes to impounding your car and if the elements are in your favor, he or she may allow you to make arrangements for your car on your own. Alternatives to having your car impounded can include arranging for someone to come pick it up for you, having it moved to a safe parking spot or having it towed to another location. If you cooperate with the arrest, do not refuse a BAC test and can facilitate one of these alternatives for your car, the office may not impound your vehicle. Vehicle impounding is used mainly as a deterrent and a failsafe to ensure those with DUIs do not get right back on the road again so demonstrating that you will take proper measures to ensure you do not have access to the car, they may not impound your car.
Have you or a loved one recently been arrested for a DUI in the Tulare, Kings or Fresno County area? Visalia DUI defense attorney Christopher Martens can best advise you on how to proceed with your case and will fight tenaciously in court for your rights. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, every client gets the respect they deserve. Contact our Visalia or Hanford offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss strategic options for your fighting your charges.