Police took my car how do I get it back? If the police took your car, how you get it back depends on the reason they took it in the first place.
Usually, the police tow your car to the police department or sheriff/marshal impound.
The reason for your car being towed may include:
- Double parking
- Unpaid parking meter
- Owing above your state’s fee cap in parking summons judgment debt
- Parking on a fire hydrant
- Blocking a driveway
- Blocking a tunnel or intersection
- Other parking violations
Note also that you may not be able to retrieve your police-towed car on the following days in most states:
- Memorial Day
- New Year’s Day
- Independence Day
- Christmas Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- Labor day
Police took my car how do I get it back?
This section highlights how you take back a car when the tow is in progress and if the car is already towed:
Stopping a police tow in progress
In many states, you can request the release of your car before the tow truck moves. This means that the vehicle needs to be unhooked and released to you. The police need to execute a binding agreement that you consent to pay the penalty for releasing the car.
However, you need to present your valid driver’s license, vehicle registration, title, car keys, and auto insurance card or identification.
If it is a rental car, provide a rental agreement and the car keys. If it is your company’s vehicle, provide the ID of the company.
Finding a towed vehicle
If your car is already towed, do the following:
- Locate the car. You can locate the vehicle using your state’s towed vehicle locator via the state’s website or call the non-emergency number to report the car. Since you already know that the police are with the car, proceed to recover it from the impound.
- Retrieve your items. You can contact the tow company to retrieve personal property. Just present proof to them that the vehicle and items belong to you. However, you cannot remove items attached to the car. And you cannot remove any item if the car is under investigation.
- File a petition. If the car was taken by the police for a criminal offense such as impaired driving seizure or felony speeding to elude arrest, you can file a petition. If you file the petition before the defendant’s trial, the clerk of court reviews your petition and issues a ruling. If you file the petition after the defendant’s trial and conviction, a judge reviews, and rules on your petition.
- Take back your car. The procedure to take your car back from the police depends on the reason the car was towed. Your local police department will tell you what you need. Generally, you need to prepare your valid driver’s license or any acceptable photo ID, insurance identification, title, car key, registration, and the specified penalty or fee.
Read also: when an officer can commandeer your vehicle
Where does the police store your towed car?
The police will have your car towed to a local storage facility. Always contact the law enforcement agency (the State Highway Patrol, a local police department, or a county sheriff) to confirm the location of your vehicle. Within a few days, they can tow the car to the facilities of a state contractor.
The driver’s trial
The state contractors can seize and sell your car if the police took it for a criminal offense. This could be done through an expedited sale depending on your state if the towing and storage costs reach a certain level before the trial.
Proceeds from the sale of the car are sent to the clerk of court’s office, and you may still owe the balance.
Also, the sales proceeds replace the car in the seizure process and are subject to orders of the court as if it is seen as the vehicle.
If you are the owner and driver of the car, and your car was seized by the police in impaired driving, you may be able to take it back. However:
- You must have no record of conviction of the impaired driving charge.
- Your license was not revoked due to a previous impaired driving offense.
- You have auto liability insurance.
File a petition with the clerk of the superior court’s office in the county you were charged if you belong in the category above. Do not wait for the impaired driving case to be resolved before you file this petition.
A prosecutor can consent for the car to be released to you. Otherwise, ask the court clerk to schedule a hearing. A judge will determine your entitlement to the vehicle release in the hearing.
Felony speeding to elude arrest
If the police took your car for felony speeding to elude arrest back, you may be able to ask the court to release the vehicle on a temporary basis.
The court clerk may have to order the vehicle released to you before trial, sometimes if 24 hours passed since the seizure, and if you met all legal conditions. This ensures that you return the car in the same condition you received it if you are found guilty.
The car can also be permanently released to you if you have not been convicted of felony speeding to elude arrest.
What if you own the car but not the driver at the time of police impound?
If the car belongs to you but you were not the driver charged in the case, the car will be released if the driver is not found guilty, or if you can prove innocence.
This means you had no idea the driver’s license was revoked, or you did not know that the driver has no valid license and liability insurance.
If the driver drove your car without your permission, and you filed a police report for unauthorized use and agreed to prosecute the driver, the car can be released to you.
Your car was stolen?
If your car was stolen, you needed to have reported the theft to the police. You can prove that the car was stolen by presenting your filed police report.
You would then go through the retrieval process to get the car back. Ensure to inform your insurance company. If there is a lien on the car, inform the lienholder.
Meanwhile, find out what happens when the police locate a stolen vehicle.
You are in the business of renting or leasing cars
You can get your car back from the police if you are in the business of renting cars and the driver was not listed as an authorized driver on the rental agreement.
Also, if you did not know that the driver’s license was revoked at the time the rental agreement or your rental agreement prohibits committing a felony with the car, you will get it back.
If you lease vehicles, hold the vehicle title as a lessor at the time of seizure, and had no knowledge of the defendant’s driver’s license being revoked at the time of the lease (for impaired driving seizures), you get your car back. The same applies if the driver is charged with felony speeding to elude arrest.