When a car is impounded by police, the police department often issues an official notice to the vehicle owner. Some police departments mail a notice of impoundment to the registered car owner's address, if the car was impounded within its jurisdiction, according to the City of Phoenix. Lien holders also receive a mailed notice.
Upon finding out that a car has been impounded, vehicle owners can usually find out where to look for the car at the city government or police department website, notes Illinois Legal Aid. Typically, impounded cars are towed to an impound lot by a tow truck driver, and the car owner is responsible for paying the cost of towing and storage fees. Storage fees can add up quickly, so it is important to ask the police department for a vehicle release as soon as possible, states Nolo Criminal Defense Lawyer. Asking for a release is the best way to avoid police declaring the vehicle abandoned, which keeps the fee meter running.
To secure the release of an impounded vehicle, police need to see proof of ownership documents, such as a driver's license and car insurance, according to FindLaw. If the police department refuses to release the car, vehicle owners can get a court order to force its release, claims Nolo Criminal Defense Lawyer. Police impound cars for various reasons, including safety violations and crime scene evidence.