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Arizona’s Twenty-Day Car Impound Law (Updated 2022)

Posted on August 28, 2018 in Drunk Driving

Does your car get impounded if you get arrested for a DUI in Arizona? Yes, there are some situations in which you will find your car impounded if you have been arrested for a DUI in Arizona. Many of our clients who are arrested for certain types of DUI are shocked to find out in addition to having to face criminal charges and potential driver’s license repercussions that they are also losing their vehicle for a whole month. This is due to a law in Arizona (Arizona Revised Statute Section 28-3511). The following are questions we are often asked about twenty-day car impounds.

Why Is My Car Being Impounded For Twenty Days?

This is due to a law in Arizona (Arizona Revised Statute Section 28-3511) which requires vehicles to be towed and impounded for 20 days for any of the following violations:

  • Extreme DUI – Where the driver arrested for DUI has a Blood Alcohol Content of .15 or above which is near twice the legal limit. ( Note: A reading on a portable breath test is sufficient, the police don’t need a blood result or an Intoxilyzer 8000 result).
  • Aggravated DUI – Which is a felony DUI. This is when the driver is arrested for DUI and:
    • the driver has a suspended driver’s license
    • the driver has two previous DUI convictions within seven years,
    • there is a child fifteen years of age or younger in the car
    • the driver was driving the wrong way (direction) on a highway,
    • is in violation of an ignition interlock requirement (driving in a car without an ignition interlock device when the driver is require to have one installed)
  • Minor with Spirituous Liquor in the Body While Operating a Motor Vehicle: The driver is under 21 with any amount of alcohol in their system
  • Other non-DUI related violations resulting in a twenty-day impound include:
    • Suspended driver’s license.
    • Revoked driver’s license.
    • No driver’s license and no record of ever having one.
    • Canceled driver’s license (must also be involved in a collision and not provide insurance).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on What to Do if Your Car is Impounded After a DUI Arrest

Our office gets a lot of questions about what to do if your car has been impounded for 20 days after a DUI arrest and what are the different ways to get a car back out of impound after a DUI arrest. We will go through these common questions now. If your car has been impounded for 20 days, after your arrest you will be given a “Notice of Impoundment”. This will have the information related to your arrest including the location of your car and the contact information for the impound that is holding your car. Most people depend on their car to use to get to work and essential errands. If you have been arrested but released, how do you get your car out of an impound to use before the 20 days?

Firstly, you have the right to a hearing. To get your car out early you must request a hearing with the police department that impounded the vehicle. It is important to keep in mind that the impound hearing will not be before a judge, it will be before a police officer.  Also, another important thing to note is that most police stations require you to request the hearing within 10 days of your vehicle impound. At the hearing, your attorney can argue that you did not commit one of the above charges. Unfortunately, even if you are successful in getting your car out of impound, you will be responsible to pay the fees associated with your car being impounded whether it was for the full 20-day period or you less.

Can my spouse get my car out early for me?

in certain situations, a way to get the car out early is to have the vehicle released to someone else who is on the title or registration or to your spouse. Arizona is a community property state, so half of that vehicle belongs to your spouse who is not accused of one of the above charges that caused the impoundment. For the other person registered on the vehicle or the spouse to get the car released, they would need to present a valid driver’s license, current vehicle registration, and proof of mandatory auto insurance. They would also need to pay all the fees associated with the car impounded directly to the towing company in order to qualify for the release of the vehicle. Another stipulation that is associated with the spouse of the owner of the vehicle or someone else on the title or registration of the vehicle getting the car out of impound is they may also enter into an agreement with the applicable Police Department stating they will not let a driver arrested for Extreme or Aggravated DUI or a minor in possession of alcohol to drive the vehicle within one year. If the agreement is violated, there is no relief available from the 20 day impound period within the next year.

How much does it cost to your vehicle back?

Arizona law requires the owner to pay for all towing charges as well as storage fees. Storage fees are limited to a maximum of $15.00 per day. These charges are due to the towing company that removed and is storing your vehicle. In addition, pursuant to ARS 28-3514, the owner is liable for an administrative fee of $150.00 paid with cash, cashier’s check, or money order payable to the City of Phoenix.

How do I get my vehicle back?

Only the applicable Police Department can release your vehicle. On or after the 20th day of impound, your vehicle will generally be eligible for release to you.

To receive the release paperwork, follow these steps:

  • You must pay an Administrative Fee of $150 with cash, cashier’s check, or money order payable to City Phoenix. Upon payment of the fee, you will be given a copy of a release form that you must take to the towing company.
  • At the towing company, you must pay the towing and storage fees. Payment is made directly to the towing company by cash, money order, certified check, or credit card. If you arrive at the tow yard to reclaim your vehicle outside of regular business hours, you may be charged a late fee. You must also present proof of your identity and ownership to the tow company.
  • If you do not claim your vehicle within ten (10) days of the available release date, the towing company may file for an abandoned title to the vehicle.

What if someone other than the owner was driving the vehicle when it was impounded?

The registered owner of the vehicle must pay the $150.00 Administrative Fee with cash, cashier’s check, or money order payable to the applicable City or Police Department. A valid driver’s license, current vehicle registration, and proof of mandatory auto insurance must be presented. The registered owner must also pay for all towing fees and storage charges directly to the towing company in order to qualify for the release of the vehicle.

If the owner was driving on a suspended license but has since had the license restored to valid status, can the vehicle be released prior to the 20-day period?

Yes. The owner would have to prove that this had been corrected and their driving privileges reinstated, at which time we will release the vehicle upon payment of an administrative fee of $150 and towing and storage charges. Should the owner get the vehicle released early they are still liable for the administrative fee ($150) and all towing and storage fees up to the actual date of release.

At the end of the 20 days, can the driver just go to the towing company and get their vehicle?

No, the towing company is not allowed to release an impounded vehicle without paperwork from the applicable Police Department. You must follow the claim process outlined above.

If the driver is found not guilty on their criminal or traffic charges will that affect the impoundment of their vehicle?

No. As long as the officer impounded your vehicle according to the law and Police Department policies and procedures, the outcome of any trial is not relevant.

What to do if You Are Charged with a DUI and Your Car Has Been Impounded After a DUI Arrest?

If you are arrested and/or charged with DUI. Please contact the Rosenstein Law Group at (480) 248-7666 for a free consultation. We are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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