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. 

  • standup

    I wonder what happens if you don’t fail the blood, breath or urine tests and they have to release you from the jail. Do you have to pay then? Do they take you back to the place of arrest and meet the tow truck with your car there?

  • RichardAlan

    It’s been three years and the tow truck company never called me to offer my money back when my case was dismissed, a year later after the arrest made by “Fantasy thinking police” , after they took my property, my freedom and my money…. Even though the case was dismissed in April of 2008, all charges were dropped… I lost my job back in March of 2008, I have not been able to find any gainful employment in over two years…. lost pension, and seniority hours, income… all of it.

    Lost my medical coverage, and have non now… WHO THE F**K ARE THESE PEOPLE ??????

    I don’t even have the money to pay we the people to complete my bankruptcy .

    It’s one big “Theft by Deception” by the United States Corporation of America.

    My family and I are pissed……… it’s one of the greatest “Public Relations Scheme” performed by the court system.

    Lawyers write about– nothing gets fixed, ever.

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  • Vickie

    What if it wasn’t a DUI? What about getting arrested in a friend’s driveway for driving on a suspended lincense when there was someone else driving? There was an argument between my boyfriend & his cousin about his cousin’s driving, so they pulled into our friends driveway. The officer was a car or two backwhen they pulled into the driveway. The officer passed them and drove on. His cousin walked over to the fire station (next door) to wait for a ride. My boyfriend called me during the argument & after to have me come get him. About 5-8 mins later, the officer came back, pulled in the driveway & took the phone out of his hand & put it on the hood of the yruck. The cop told him he was under arrest. My boyfriend asked what for & he said driving on a suspended lincense. Unbeknownst to the officer, when he “took” the phone out of my boyfriends hands, he was calling me & it went to my VM & it recorded the whole thing! This same officer went to school w/my boyfriend & they didn’t get along. He has arrested my boyfriend 4x in 2yrs. My boyfriend told the cop he had permission from property owner to leave his truck there. (50 yrd. driveway. Way off main rd.) The cop said he was having it towed. My boyfriend asked for our normal towing service & was denied. My boyfriend asked the officer several times to show him proof of him driving on his dash cam & was told he didn’t have to. He was also told he had not right to decide which to we company to use…he had no rights. He called my boyfriend a lier and cussed him.
    When I went to our friends, there was another officer there. I asked if I could drive the truck home (have a valid license)? I was told “No” cuz the towel truck was already there. So I asked if I could have the truck towed to my house 2MLS away cuz I have towing through my phone company? He called the arresting officer & I was then told ” Johnson was adament about having truck impounded”! I said, “So, I CAN’T drive my INSURED truck with my VALID DL nor can I towe the truck AT MY EXPENSE to my home?” The officer told that I was correct. I did tell him how wrong I thought it was, & believe it or not, he agreed.
    It cost me $170.00 to get him out of jail & $165.00 to get truck out. This took about 2 hrs. to do after he was arrested.
    I have all the phone records, the recording & his cousin who is going to testify that he was the one driving. We are also going to file harassment charges against the arresting officer, as well.
    My question is, can we get the impoundment money back? We just left the courthouse and the same officer came to see what he was going to do & was upset when we said we were taking it to trial. DA said they’d probably just drop it. When leaving courthouse, that officer followed us out hollering “Hey, do you have your license back yet?, Huh, do ya?” Then pulled us over about 1/2ml down the rd. Said we had a taillight out. (Which, we didn’t). I guess he was checking to see if he was all legal. This officer has harassed us and cost us hundreds of dollars. Is there anything we could do to get some of the money back? What about the constant harassmentioned from this officer? He follows us & sits outside our neighborhood. I don’t understand why?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.