Arrested Driver Liable for Costs of Car Impound — Even if Not Guilty

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on September 7th, 2010

So you were arrested for drunk driving, and your car was impounded by the police.  And you had to pay a chunk of money to get your car back.  But you were later found not guilty of the offense, so you get it back, right? 


DUI Fees Still Apply if Driver Acquitted of DUI?

Riverside, CA.  Sept. 5
– Q:   The Aug. 2 column, dealing with the financial costs of a DUI conviction, prompted a related question from Murrieta resident Bill Albrant. Whhen someone is arrested on a DUI charge, their vehicle is impounded. They will have to pay at least $250 to retrieve it later, paying for the towing and the storage, according to the Insurance Information Network of California. Albrant asked what happens when someone is acquitted of the DUI charge.

A: Unfortunately, there's no clear answer about this, said Pete Moraga, spokesman for the network.

That's because there can be many reasons for a DUI acquittal. Proving you weren't guilty is only one of them. Others include cases in which the officer didn't show up in court or procedural problems with the case (for example, if the officer didn't read the defendant his Miranda rights).

"If it could be proven the driver was not impaired, there are more grounds to get your money back," Moraga said, "but the difficulty is, to what extent can you prove that?"

Meanwhile, regardless of whether someone is guilty of DUI, the towing company did tow and store your car and will require payment for that. Usually law enforcement agencies have contracts with towing and impound services.

Someone's ability to be reimbursed for their costs may depend on the contract between the police and the towing service, Moraga said. If the law enforcement agency is willing or able to absorb the impound costs, the acquitted individual may be in luck — but as Moraga noted, this is unlikely.


How can citizens found not guilty of a crime still forced to pay for costs of the arrest?  Oh, right, this is a drunk driving case.  And the municipalities get a chunk of those impound fees. 


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