What Happens When the Police Tow a Car?

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Although laws and procedures differ by jurisdiction for when the police tow a car, some police departments contacts the vehicle's owner after storing the vehicle in a lot. Owners reclaim their impounded vehicles when they provide proof of ownership, and pay applicable fees related to keeping the vehicle in storage, according to the Rancho Cordova Police Department.

Police departments tow vehicles when the driver is accused of driving with a suspended license, driving without a license or driving while under the influence of alcohol, the Scottsdale Police Department states. The state also tows cars that do not meet the ignition interlock requirement.

Police departments in some states keep cars in storage for 30 to 90 days before the owners forfeit rights to the vehicle. Owners who do not pick up their vehicles within that time no longer have legal ownership, and the state is legally obligated to sell the car and its contents at public auction, according to the Dallas Police Department.

To get a car out of police impound, the owner brings proof of ownership, such as title and registration, along with a valid form of identification. In addition, the owner is required to pay a fee for processing and storing the vehicle. The fee varies depending on how long police held the vehicle in a storage facility, and how much the police department charges for processing, the Dallas Police Department states.