The police can have your car taken into either a private impound yard (in smaller communities and jurisdictions) or to a municipally owned impound lot in larger cities and towns. Once your car arrives in an impound yard, the rules regarding the disposition of your car are different from state to state. In many states, rules vary based on the reason the car was impounded.
In some states, a car may be sent to the impound lot if the driver is caught with no license, a revoked license or a suspended license. In this case, the car may remain on the lot for a minimum of 30 days, and after that until the registered owner shows proof of registration, is checked for outstanding parking violations, pays a release fee and shows a valid driver's license.
Parked Too Long
In some states, cars may be sent to impound because they have been parked for longer than 48 or 72 hours in a public area, such as a city street. In these cases, owners often have to pay a fine, show proof or registration and a driver’s license. They may also have to pay towing fees.
Often, your car may be immediately impounded if you are pulled over and have no proof of insurance. If this is the case, you will need to call the police department and ask about the rules regarding getting your car out of impound. You will have to show registration, a driver’s license and proof of insurance before you will be able to take your car home.
Car Was Stolen
If your car is stolen and then recovered, it will be put into impound until the police can reach you. If for some reason they can’t reach you, the car will stay on the impound lot. No one will deliver it to your door.
Length of Impound
The length of time a car may stay in impound can vary drastically according to state and city. Many places have a 30-day minimum impound length. This deadline is subject to change if the car is being held by the police. Cars impounded because of their involvement in an accident may be held for months or even years. You can usually take the car out of impound if you get a vehicle release form from the appropriate agency involved.
Amber D. Walker has been writing professionally since 1989. She has had essays published in "Fort Worth Weekly," "Starsong," "Paper Bag," "Living Buddhism" and more. Walker holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Texas and worked as an English teacher abroad for six years.