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When Can the Police Impound Your Car?

Knowing when the police are permitted and not permitted to impound your vehicle is important if you are ever pulled over. Getting your car out of impound is a frustrating and potentially expensive process that most people would prefer to avoid. Police cannot impound your car without reason; here is when they can make that choice.

1. Evidence of a Crime

When someone is arrested, the police officer is permitted to search their person to retrieve evidence. This is called “search incident to arrest.” You may not, in other words, be searched simply because you were pulled over for speeding or another minor traffic violation.
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Depending on what type of crime you have been arrested for, an officer may suspect that there is evidence of that crime in your vehicle. They may also consider the vehicle itself to be evidence of the crime. In either of these cases, police are permitted to impound your vehicle.

If your car is impounded for this reason, it could be a very long time before you get it back. If your vehicle is used as evidence, you may have to wait until your trial has concluded to retrieve it. Alternatively, a judge may decide to seize your vehicle altogether.

2. Hazard to Public Safety

Police officers are tasked with the job of keeping the public safe. If an officer believes that you’re vehicle is a hazard to public safety, they can impound it. This may happen when:

  • You are pulled over and arrested and have no one who can come and remove your car from the road for you.
  • Your vehicle is a danger to public safety.
  • Having your car impounded is in your best interest — sitting on the roadside will make it a target for vandalism or theft.

What a police officer cannot do is impound your car because they want to search it later. They have to follow normal procedures to tow your car. What they can do, however, is search it once it has made it to the impound lot in order to take an inventory of your property.

For example, you are pulled over and arrested for DUI. You have no one who can come and get your car for you and you have no passengers who are able to drive. The officer can make the decision to have your car impounded and they may conduct an inventory search once it has arrived at the tow yard.

When your car is impounded you may asked to be different fees to retrieve it. There could be a towing fee and then an impounding fee for the first several days. The impounding fee may go up if you are not able to get your car out quickly. These fees are typically paid directly to the towing company.

If you have been arrested in Orlando, call our team for a free case evaluation. We will review the details of your arrest and charges, and we will advise you of all of your legal options. Call now.

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Find Out How Our Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help You Katz & Phillips, P.A. works to try to keep your record clear and keep you out of jail, or to minimize the possible penalties of serious charges you face. To learn more, call today and speak with an experienced member of our legal team
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