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What Happens to Your Car When You Get a DUI?

A DUI arrest brings many problems. During the arrest, you will likely focus on major issues: will you go to jail? Will you lose your license? How much will it cost? However, once you are released, you will face many smaller issues. One of these is getting your car back.

What happens to your car when you get a DUI depends on the details of your arrest. There are three main outcomes based on the officers’ decision and your driving record: they may leave it by the road, impound it for a short time, or impound it for a long time.

Left by the Roadside

If you have a valid driver’s license during your DUI arrest, the officers have some options for handling your car. The best outcome is that they leave it on the side of the road where you were arrested. They might mark it so the Highway Patrol knows it’s already been addressed, or they might leave it alone.

In this situation, you can ask a friend or family member to pick it up for you. You can also retrieve it yourself once it is released, as long as your temporary license is still valid. Act quickly, though; if it stays there too long, it might be towed as an abandoned vehicle.

Short-Term Impound

Alternatively, officers may choose to impound your vehicle. This decision is entirely up to them. Leaving it on the roadside is better since it doesn’t cost you anything. However, they might impound it for several reasons:

  • They don’t want to wait for your friend or relative to pick it up.
  • They want to search it for evidence, which they can do if it’s impounded.
  • They want to make things more difficult for you.
  • The last reason often happens if you are rude or uncooperative. Being polite and cooperative with the police can help avoid this.

If your vehicle is impounded, you can usually get it back in a few days. You will need to pay towing and impound fees and show ID to claim it.

Long-Term Impound

If you were driving with a suspended license, the police would have no choice but to impound your vehicle. This is true regardless of whether you received a license suspension as a result of an administrative decision or as part of a criminal sentence, such as for a prior DUI. In this situation, your car will be impounded for 30 days following your arrest. If you are convicted, it could be impounded for up to 90 more days.

Impoundment fees are expensive. They include the cost of towing, which is often $200 or more, plus a daily fee. The daily fee depends on the location but can be $50 or even $70 per day. This can add up to over $8,000 in four months.

If the car isn’t yours, there is some hope. The registered owner can retrieve the car from the impound lot. However, if they knowingly let you drive without a valid license, they could face criminal charges.

If you have been arrested for DUI, don’t let a conviction cost you your car or thousands of dollars. Contact a Fairfax DUI lawyer from the KGO Law Firm for a free consultation today.