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When a person is arrested for a drunk or drugged driving offense, he or she often wonders what happens to the vehicle. In Pennsylvania, the arresting law enforcement agency has the option to tow and impound the vehicle after a DUI arrest. In certain circumstances, they can also search your vehicle before and after impoundment. This practice often is a little controversial and confusing. People who have been arrested wonder if seizing their property is legal. Pennsylvania is one of several states with vehicle impoundment laws on the books for those who face DUI charges.

DUI Vehicle Impoundment in Pennsylvania

Being arrested for a DUI can be an overwhelming experience, especially when there are so many factors involved. For most people, not knowing what will happen to their vehicle increases their anxiety. It is important to understand the process and know skilled DUI defense attorneys at the Skinner Law Firm can help you.

Michael J. Skinner understands how complex DUI cases can be, and he can work with you to ensure the appropriate steps are taken. He can help you through the impoundment process and each portion of the criminal charges. Call (610) 436-1410 to schedule a free consultation.

What Happens to My Car After a DUI Arrest?

When a person is arrested in Pennsylvania for drunk or drugged driving, the arresting agency can impound the vehicle the driver was operating at the time of the offense. The vehicle would be impounded for 12 hours after the time of the arrest or until the driver claims the vehicle.

However, getting the vehicle could be a complicated process. Drivers are required to have a valid driver’s license, proof of ownership or lawful authority to operate the vehicle and proof of valid insurance for the vehicle. If any of the documents are not provided, the car will not be released.

Additionally, the vehicle can be retrieved by a person other than the driver in two scenarios. If someone other than the driver owns the vehicle, that person would be able to retrieve it. For instance, if a husband was arrested for a DUI and the vehicle also is owned by his wife, she would be allowed to retrieve the vehicle. The driver also could have someone else get the vehicle from the impound lot if he or she gives consent in writing and the other conditions are met.  This means the person getting the vehicle still would need to show proof of insurance, along with a valid driver’s license to leave the lot.

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Why Impound the Vehicle?

The immediate impounding of a vehicle often is done when drunk drivers are alone in their vehicles and no one else can assume the driving role. For instance, if a driver is arrested for a DUI and there is no passenger to drive the vehicle, it could be impounded.

However, if the vehicle can be parked safely and legally, officers sometimes will allow the vehicle to remain there. For example, if a person legally stopped in a parking lot after being signal by an officer before being arrested for a DUI, his or her vehicle could stay in the parking lot.

If a driver’s car is impounded, the arresting agency likely will inform drivers of what is happening to the vehicle and where it will be taken. If the person is too intoxicated, he or she can get information from the agency after being released from jail.

The process overall can be simple, but it is often is costly. Drivers will be required to pay towing fees for the vehicle, in addition to paying a storage fee where the vehicle was impounded. The storage fee is usually assessed daily. The law enforcement agency will retain custody of the vehicle until the fee is paid.

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Retrieving Your Car After a Chester County DUI

The Skinner Law Firm works with clients throughout southeast Pennsylvania, including Chester County and Delaware County, to ensure their rights are represented after a DUI arrest. If your vehicle was impounded, Michael J. Skinner can help you get your vehicle back while fighting the criminal DUI charges. Call (610) 436-1410 today for a free consultation.


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