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UPDATED: Jun 24, 2020
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|Car Out of Impound With No Insurance||Details||From Experts...|
|Number of states with specific towing and impoundment laws||22||Center for Disease Control|
|Average rate increase for high-risk drivers||76%||Quadrant Data|
|Average cost for towing||$80–$388||American Automobile Association (AAA)|
Have you ever had your car impounded? If so, you know the stress and anxiety that can come with that brief brush up with the law. If you’re one of the uninsured drivers on the road, you may have asked yourself, “Can I get my car out of impound without insurance?”
Obeying the rules of the road is a good way to avoid becoming a statistic. If you drive the speed limit, stop at stop signs, and signal before you turn, chances are you will stay on the good side of the law.
You are expected to comply with driving laws and car insurance laws when you are licensed and own a vehicle. If you don’t have auto insurance on your car, there’s a high chance you could find yourself in trouble. It could even lead to an impoundment of your car. If you’re asking “The police impounded my car, how do I get it back?”, this article is for you.
And if you need insurance right now to get your car out of impound, enter your ZIP code above to start comparing quotes.
How to Get Your Car Out of Impound Without Insurance
While a car can be impounded for myriad reasons, there is usually only one way to get it out. An impound fee will have to be paid and required documentation will need to be presented. This documentation usually includes your driver’s license, proof of ownership, and proof of insurance.
If you don’t have valid insurance for your impounded vehicle, it will be difficult to get your car out of impound.
How To Get Insurance for an Impounded Car
You will need to show proof of insurance to get your vehicle out of impound. If your car has been impounded because you are not properly insured, you’ll need to purchase an auto insurance policy.
Insuring an impounded car is not different from insuring any other car. To purchase an insurance policy, you will need to have the following information:
- Personal information of any drivers using the vehicle: driving history, insurance history, date(s) of birth, and driver’s license(s)
- Primary residence: where the vehicle is parked
- Vehicle information number (VIN)
- Lienholder information (if applicable)
When purchasing an insurance policy for your impounded car, it may be that you have to pay higher rates. Your ticket for driving without insurance and your impoundment will alert the insurance company. It is possible that you will be labeled a high-risk driver and have to pay excess car insurance as a result.
|State||Average Annual Rates||Average Annual Rates for High-Risk Drivers||Percent Increase|
According to the data above, insurance rates for high-risk drivers can be quite expensive. High-Risk drivers in North Carolina could see an increase of nearly 300 percent while a Maryland high-risk driver could pay 12 percent more for insurance. Nationally, high-risk insurance costs around 76 percent more than regular insurance rates.
High-risk drivers may be required to file special forms. SR-22 car insurance is required for some high-risk drivers in many states. If you are considered a high-risk driver, you may need to file an SR-22 form with your state’s DMV. An SR-22 form typically costs about $50 for six months and allows you to buy car insurance as a high-risk driver.
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Why Cars Are Impounded
There are several reasons why the police may impound a car. You should also know that if the police impound a car, they can search it. Once the car is impounded, it will cost time and money to get it back.
If a car’s driver has accumulated several unpaid traffic tickets, the car may be impounded until the tickets are paid. If a driver is stopped for suspicion of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the officer can have the vehicle towed and impounded if there is not another driver. If the vehicle has been involved in a crime or an accident, the police may have it impounded for an investigation.
According to the Center for Disease Control’s data on driving and impoundment laws, 22 states have specific laws about impoundments after driving while impaired or driving with a suspended license offense.
|State||Vehicle Impoundment and Confiscation Laws|
|Alabama||A vehicle may be impounded if a driver is found to be driving with a revoked license or driving with a license suspended because of a DWI-related offense or refuses a breath test. However, the law provides that the vehicle will be released to the registered owner if the offender is not the owner. Further, police can release the vehicle, rather than impounding it, if it is determined that the driving is due to an emergency. This law does not seem to be aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by separating offenders from their vehicles.|
|Alaska||The municipalities may enact ordinances to impound or confiscate motor vehicles for violations of local DWI offenses or refusal of chemical test laws for first and subsequent offenses. However, these laws are not mandatory.|
|Arizona||Under Arizona’s temporary vehicle impoundment law, the offender’s vehicle may be immediately impounded for 30 days if the driver is arrested for any of the following offenses: (1) DWR for any reason; (2) DWS where the suspension was based on driving under the influence; (3) DWS where the suspension was based on a drunk-driving offense; or (4) DWS where the suspension was based on the frequency of traffic law violation convictions. The vehicle may be released before 30 days if the offender’s driving privileges have been reinstated or if the offender’s spouse enters a five-year agreement with the state to not to allow an unlicensed driver to operate the vehicle.|
|California||California has two vehicle impoundment laws. The first law states that a vehicle owned and driven by an offender may be impounded up to 30 days for a first or second DWI offense and up to 90 days for third and subsequent offenses, if the offense is committed within five years of a prior offense. This first law prevents the vehicle from being impounded if it is the only vehicle available to the family or if another person has a community-property interest in the vehicle. The second law states that the vehicle owned and driven by the offender may be impounded for up to six months for a first DWI offense and up to 12 months for a subsequent DWI offense. We found no information on reasons one law might be enforced rather than the other. There is no mention of laws concerning chemical test refusals.|
|Connecticut||Connecticut has a vehicle impoundment law. The vehicle may be impounded for refusing a chemical test, which is a criminal offense and a felony DWI for a third or subsequent DWI offense. An ALR suspension counts as a prior DWI offense. There is also limited vehicle impoundment of 48 hours if a driver is arrested for drinking and driving with a suspended or revoked license. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders.|
|Washington D.C.||The District of Columbia also has a limited vehicle impoundment law, under which impoundment is limited to 24 hours. However, the vehicle may be released to a legally licensed driver.|
|Florida||Florida has a vehicle impoundment law, under which the vehicle that is used and owned in a first DWI offense may be impounded for ten days. This action may not be concurrent with probation or imprisonment. For a second DWI offense within five years, the vehicle can be impounded for 30 days and, for a third DWI offense within ten years, for 90 days. This applies to all vehicles owned by the offender and may not be concurrent with probation or imprisonment. However, unlike first DWI offenses, it must be concurrent with the driver’s license revocation. For first, second, and third DWI offenses, these actions are conditions of mandatory probation; however, the court may decide not to order vehicle impoundment if the family has no other means of transportation. There also is a limited vehicle impoundment law for a DWI offense if, at the time of the DWI offense, the offender was driving with a license suspended for a prior DWI offense. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders.|
|Illinois||If the DWI offender is the registered owner, then the vehicle can be impounded for 24 hours for a second DWI offense or 48 hours for a third DWI offense. The vehicle may be released sooner to a competent, licensed driver with the owner’s consent. There also is a limited vehicle impoundment law, under which law enforcement can impound a driver’s vehicle for not more than 12 hours following a DWI arrest. Limited impoundment may be used if the officer reasonably believes that the arrested offender will commit another DWI offense if released. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders.|
|Iowa||For a second or subsequent DWI offense, the vehicle owned and used by the offender can be impounded or immobilized and the license plate seized (and registration confiscated if the vehicle is in custody) by law enforcement authorities. New registration plates are issued only at the end of the driver’s license revocation period or 180 days, whichever is longer.|
|Kannsas||For DWI violations, judges, at their discretion, may order vehicle impoundment or immobilization of the vehicle used in the offense, for up to one year. The offender pays all costs. Judges must take into account hardship to family. This law went into effect on July 1, 2003.|
|Maine||Maine also has a temporary vehicle impoundment law. The vehicle used in a DWI offense or for DWS for a prior DWI offense may be seized; however, the vehicle may be released after eight hours. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders.|
|Maryland||The vehicle can be impounded or immobilized (by suspending license plates) for not more than 180 days if the driver’s license is currently suspended for a prior alcohol offense.|
|Minnesota||Under Minnesota’s vehicle impoundment law, a vehicle may be impounded after a DWI arrest and released to the vehicle owner with proof of a valid driver’s license and insurance. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders.|
|Mississippi||For a second or subsequent DWI offenses, all vehicles owned by the offender must be impounded or immobilized at the time of conviction and remain so until the license suspension has expired. If any other person must use the vehicle, an ignition interlock may be required as an alternative to impoundment or immobilization.|
|Missouri||Missouri has a vehicle impoundment or vehicle forfeiture law; however, under Missouri law, cities with populations higher than 100,000 can make their own vehicle impoundment or forfeiture laws. The state law applies to the vehicle operated by the offender regardless of ownership; consequently, the vehicle is subject to impoundment or forfeiture if the driver has had one or more DWI offenses, including illegal per se. The vehicle also can be impounded or forfeited if the offender is driving with a license suspended for a prior DWI offense or for a DWI and involuntary manslaughter offense. Last, the vehicle can be impounded or forfeited if the driver has had two or more DWI offenses (including illegal per se) and, for either offense, had a BAC of 0.08 or greater (0.02 or greater for those under 21) or if the driver has refused to submit to a chemical test under the implied-consent law.|
|Nebraska||An offender who is driving with a license suspended for a prior DWI or an implied-consent conviction may have his or her vehicle impounded for not less than ten days and not longer than 30 days. An offender under 21 may have his or her vehicle impounded if he or she has a BAC of 0.02 or greater.|
|New Jersey||According to Century Council (2003), New Jersey has a vehicle impoundment law under which an offender’s vehicle must be impounded for 12 hours at the time of arrest. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders. NHTSA (2003a) does not report any vehicle impoundment laws in New Jersey, which raises a question as to which source is correct.|
|New Mexico||New Mexico also has a vehicle immobilization law, under which a vehicle may be immobilized for 30 days if the offender was driving with a revoked license, unless immobilization poses a hardship to the family.|
|Oregon||Vehicle impoundment or immobilization is limited to one year for a second or subsequent DWI offense or for driving with a suspended license. This action is at the court’s discretion and applies to all vehicles owned and used by the offender, even if not used in the offense. The offender must pay the costs of removing, storing, or immobilizing the vehicle.|
|Virginia||Any vehicle used in a DWI offense may be impounded or immobilized for 30 days if the offender was driving with a license suspended because of a prior DWI, an administrative per se violation, or chemical test refusal. In addition, vehicles owned by an offender may be impounded or immobilized for up to 90 days even if the vehicles were not used in the offense. There are family hardship exceptions for households with only one vehicle.|
|Washington||Washington has a vehicle impoundment law. In addition to impounding the vehicle for other possible penalties for driving with a license suspended for a prior DWI conviction, authorities may also impound the vehicle for not more than 30 days on a first offense. For a second offense, the vehicle may be impounded for not more than 60 days or, for a third offense, not more than 90 days.|
|Wisconsin||There is a policy in Wisconsin that allows temporary vehicle impoundment, as part of the immobilization process. This is not a law, just a policy, and is used only temporarily and at the discretion of officers in the field.|
|Wyoming||Wyoming has a policy that allows for temporary vehicle impoundment. An offender’s vehicle may be impounded following an arrest if a sober driver is unavailable. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders.|
The table above outlines the laws specific to vehicle impoundment used in 22 states. Of these, 15 states allowed for long-term impoundment. Another seven allowed impoundment on a short-term basis only, to prevent a drunk driver from driving home after an arrest, rather than as a long-term measure.
If a vehicle owner fails to properly insure the car, the police may have it impounded until proper insurance is ascertained. The list below outlines the top reasons for a car to be impounded.
- Car was involved in a crime – The driver of the vehicle has committed a crime such as DUI or driving with a suspended license. If the driver is arrested, the driver cannot move their car to a safe location or no one else is available to move the car.
- Evidence of a crime – Less common scenario, the car itself could potentially be evidence of a crime. Many states allow police to impound a car if it is involved in a case of reckless driving, vehicular manslaughter, or if the car has been used to assault someone.
- Public safety – Most common reasons for car impoundment. If a car is parked in an unsafe area, appears to be abandoned, or poses some other threat to public safety such as no insurance or having unsafe equipment.
If a vehicle owner fails to make the scheduled payments, a repossession can take place. This is a different impoundment, but it will still result in the loss of your car until certain costs are paid. According to the Federal Trade Commission, you have certain rights to the car, but this process will be different from a police impoundment.
If the car is impounded by the police, the only way to get it back is to pay the fines or, if necessary, meet certain requirements set forth by a judge.
How can I get my car out of impound?
Getting your car out of the impound lot isn’t as easy as going to a towing company and asking to have it released. You have to complete the steps before the car will be released.
You may stand in line for hours only to find out – I can’t afford to get my car out of impound. You may also be missing the right paperwork to do so. While requirements vary according to jurisdiction, there are some commonalities.
Remember that you can’t get your car out of the lot if you still don’t have insurance. If you haven’t bought a policy yet, it’s time to go shopping.
Always Ask for Your Car to be Released From Impound
Should you find yourself in the situation where your car has been taken to the impoundment, you should ask for the release of the vehicle as soon as possible, even if you know that your car has been rightfully towed.
The law determines that the right to tow a vehicle does not automatically grant the right to keep it. If you do not ask for a release of the vehicle, however, the storage facility could claim that you left it in their lot, or abandoned it, and could charge you storage fees.
A licensed driver with proof of liability insurance needs to be the one who requests the release of the car.
You cannot get the car out of an impound lot without the owner. If the person retrieving the car is not the owner, they should be accompanied by the owner or have a notarized power of attorney signed by the owner.
While it is more likely that you will have to go through the process of getting your car, it may work out that your request will be enough to get the car released. It is always good to establish your position either way.
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Getting the Impounded Car Released
To begin the process of retrieving your car, you will first need to know where it is.
If you are wondering, how to find out if your car was impounded. There are several websites available to locate your car with your vehicle’s identification number and your license plate number. You can also call your city’s information hotline and inquire about your vehicle.
In some states, there are DMV-operated vehicle impounds and in other states, it is a separate operation that is privately owned. The parking authority may use your license plate number or your VIN on your car to find whether it has been towed.
Once you have discovered where your car’s been towed, you will need to find out what you need to do to get it out.
You will need to inquire about fees, necessary paperwork, and the time that your vehicle will be available to release.
You will likely need your driver’s license and proof of a valid insurance policy. Can you get a car out of impound without a license? Possibly, as long as you don’t plan to drive it off the lot.
You will also need to be able to prove that you are the owner of the vehicle with some form of title or loan document. If you’re wondering how to get a car out of impound without title, you will need to ask the authorities what other documents are acceptable. You will be required to produce all of these documents to retrieve your car.
You’ll also need to verify what forms of payment are accepted at the impound lot.
Take a look at this brief video from a police department that outlines some of the things that you will need to have to get your car back if it has been towed.
If the car doesn’t have a valid license plate, you will not be permitted to drive it off the lot. You must either bring a valid plate or arrange to have the car towed away.
Be sure that you have your paperwork in order, as well as your finances, before going to the impoundment lot. Having the things you need beforehand will save you time and frustration. Laws can vary from state to state, so how to get a car out of impound without registration in California will differ from Texas or Minnesota.
Costs of Car Impoundment
You’ve probably wondered: How do I get my car out of impound without paying? Unfortunately, the financial aspect of recovering an impounded car can be a strain on your wallet. You should find out how much it costs per day to get a car out of impound at your specific location. As this can cost sometimes hundreds of dollars, these costs can add up quickly.
Recovering a vehicle towed by a public agency can cost $100–$1,000 or more. The total will depend on the reason the vehicle was towed, the type and size of the vehicle, how long it is stored, and any outstanding fines. Many states can also impose an impound or vehicle release fee of $250 or more.
The table below demonstrates the national average costs to tow a vehicle according to The American Automobile Association (AAA).
|Miles Towed||Average Costs|
Based on the above data, you will need to figure in at least $100 for the cost of towing your vehicle to the impound lot.
Depending on the reason for the impoundment, the vehicle might be required to stay on the lot for up to 30 days. This will result in additional charges. Can I get my car out of impound before 30 days? Well, several states have laws that do protect you from predatory towing and storage fees according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
A car insurance policy may pay the recovery costs if there was a collision or the vehicle was stolen and then recovered.
In addition, some cities or states may waive or discount fees for towing and storage if the vehicle was stolen. In most other situations, however, you will be responsible for all costs associated with your car impoundment.
Insurance does not typically cover towing costs and storage for driving without insurance, parking violations, or other infractions.
Leaving the Car Impounded
In certain circumstances, if the owner of the impounded vehicle cannot get insurance on the car or cannot pay the fees to release it, the car is left at the lot. What happens if you don’t get your car out of impound?
If a towed vehicle goes unclaimed by the owner within a given length of time, it is usually sold to cover the costs associated with the impound. This is not the ideal situation and the financial consequences of doing this could be costly, especially if you still owe a bank or finance company money for the car. This begs the question: can my finance company get my car out of impound? The finance company can repossess your car, but only if you stop making the payments. That’s not the ideal situation.
If the money received from the auction sale is not enough to cover the towing, storage, auction fees, and any remaining financing on the car, you will be held liable for the unpaid debt.
Your best bet if you can not get the car out of impound, would be to contact the storage facility and see if you can work out an agreement with them.
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Properly Insuring Your Car
Aside from serious driving offenses like a DUI, you probably won’t be confronted with the possibility of having your car towed and impounded. However, driving without car insurance raises the probability of this happening.
An officer may run your tag and pull you over for not having insurance. Additionally, some law enforcement divisions employ plate-reading devices that will notify an officer of a non-insured vehicle. While this could get your car impounded, in some states like New York, the officer has no choice.
While It may seem like the real trouble begins when your car is impounded, that’s hardly the case. In addition to having to locate your car and pay a fee, you will very likely also need to come up with proof of insurance before you can have your vehicle back.
Why do you have to have insurance on a car?
Though you’re not required to buy home or renters insurance, the law does say that you have to have insurance on your car. Car insurance is one of the only forms of insurance that’s mandatory in most states.
Car insurance is required for many reasons. Perhaps the biggest reason that car insurance is required is that you can injure others or damage their property while you are driving a car.
The video below will outline several reasons why you need to have proper insurance for your car.
If you do hurt someone or damage their car, there is no guarantee that you will have money put aside to pay the costs on your own. By requiring car insurance, you’ll be able to pay when you’re liable for damages.
What type of car insurance is compulsory?
The state will never tell a car owner that they have to buy property insurance on their car. It’s the legal owner’s decision as to whether or not they want that extra protection that helps pay for comprehensive car insurance or collision insurance losses.
If the car is financed, you will be under a contract that says you’re expected to keep full coverage.
The brief video below explains car insurance types and what you might need for your car.
It’s not typical for the state to require you to buy first-party coverage. What is usually required is third-party coverage. This coverage will pay for someone else’s damages when you are the one who caused them.
If you could be sued for damages, then the liability auto insurance coverage will help to protect your finances.
Bodily injury liability coverage and property damage liability are the compulsory coverages. Bodily injury liability will pay for medical bills and other expenses incurred by others. Property damage liability pays for repairs needed on the damaged property after an auto-related accident.
You Are Required to Carry Proof of Insurance at All Times
In all states except New Hampshire, you are required to have minimum car insurance coverage and carry proof of your insurance whenever you are operating the vehicle. Failing to carry proof of insurance could lead to fines, vehicle impoundment, or more serious consequences.
If you are pulled over and you are unable to provide proof of insurance, then the officer may choose to impound your vehicle.
The proof of insurance will contain the following information:
- Insured’s name and address
- Vehicle year and make
- Policy renewal dates
- Insurance company name
- Insurance policy number
This is why the impound lot will not release your vehicle without proof of insurance. Because you have to drive your vehicle off the lot, you have to have insurance. You cannot legally drive your vehicle until it is covered by insurance.
Having your car impounded is no fun and can be a real pain. However, if you are armed with the general knowledge of the process beforehand, it can be a little bit smoother and less stressful. Be sure to consult the traffic laws in the areas you frequent, and make sure that you have the appropriate insurance on your car.
Start the process of getting your car out of impound from the comforts of your own home. Use our online quoting system to compare car insurance rates now.