Los Angeles DUI Vehicle Impoundment
After a driver has been arrested for driving under the influence, there are often questions about what will happen to the vehicle and whether or not the vehicle will be impounded. Certain drivers who are convicted of driving under the influence may have their vehicle impounded for a specific amount of time or may even have the vehicle deemed a “nuisance” and sold off.
What happens to a driver’s vehicle when he or she is arrested will often depend on a variety of factors. A driver who is arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence will be taken to the police station or hospital to undergo chemical testing. In many cases, the defendant will not be released from jail or be given the opportunity to post bail until the next morning. Once a driver is suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the arresting officer will not allow him or her to drive the vehicle, even if it is just to move the vehicle to a safe parking place. In many cases, the officer will contact a towing company who will tow and impound the vehicle. The driver would be able to retrieve the vehicle when he or she is released from custody and would likely have to pay expensive impound and tow fees.
In there is a licensed passenger in the vehicle who is not under the influence, the officer may allow the passenger to drive the vehicle after the driver has been arrested and taken into police custody. In other cases, if the vehicle is parked in a safe and legal location, the officer may decide not to tow the vehicle and may allow the driver to retrieve the vehicle once he or she has been released from custody.
In some cases involving DUI accidents or fatalities, the police may determine that the vehicle is evidence in the case and may order the vehicle to be held at the police impoundment lot. The vehicle may undergo forensic testing or investigation and the driver may not be able to retrieve the vehicle until the case has resolved. In some cases, a judge may agree to issue an order releasing the vehicle to the driver in these situations.
Generally, an officer cannot search a vehicle unless he or she has a warrant or the driver’s consent. There is an exception where the vehicle is going to be towed. The law enforcement agency authorizing the tow is allowed to conduct an “inventory search” of the vehicle prior to towing it in order to account for all of the defendant’s property that is in the vehicle. If illegal items or substances are found during the inventory search, the defendant may be charged with additional criminal offenses.
In some cases, the law allows for impoundment of a DUI defendant’s vehicle following a DUI conviction. If the driver has a prior conviction for DUI that occurred within the previous five years, the court may order that the vehicle be impounded at his or her expense for a period of up to 30 days under California Vehicle Code Section 23594 VC. If the defendant has two previous DUI convictions occurring in the last five years, the Court can order that the vehicle be impounded for up to 90 days. The judge may elect not to impound the defendant’s vehicle where the interests of justice would best be served by not ordering impoundment.
There are circumstances where the court can deem the defendant’s vehicle a “nuisance.” Under California Vehicle Code Section 23596 VC, a defendant who is convicted of three DUI offenses within a seven year period can have his or her vehicle declared a nuisance. In these cases, the Court can order the vehicle to be sold.
If you have been charged with DUI and want to know more about vehicle impoundment, it is very important that you consult with a Los Angeles DUI Attorney as soon as possible. Lawyer Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 year of prosecutorial experience who knows how to effectively protect his clients from vehicle impoundment. Once retained, Mr. Kraut can work with police and prosecutorial agencies to get a driver’s vehicle released in addition to fighting any impoundment or forfeiture orders in court.
For more information about Los Angeles DUI vehicle impoundment, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.