How To Avoid California 30 Day vehicle Impound

How To Avoid California 30 Day vehicle Impound – Towed and Stored Vehicle Release Procedures…

The California Police Department is authorized to tow and store any vehicle or trailer that is required to be registered.
Vehicles may be towed for, but not limited to, the following reasons:
  • Stolen
  • Embezzled
  • Unregistered
  • Abandoned
  • Violation of city zoning codes/ordinances
  • Unlicensed driver
  • Driver with suspended or revoked license
  • Vehicle used in the commission of a crime: drunk driving, hit and run, reckless driving, other crimes such as robbery

Officers may use discretion about when to tow under specific circumstances.  Certain violations require the officer to tow the vehicle.  In every case where a stolen vehicle has been recovered, and it is drive-able, our officers will make every effort to contact the registered owner so they may come to the location and pick up the car, thus avoiding towing/storage fees. If the registered owner (R/O) cannot be contacted or is unable to pick up the vehicle, the vehicle will be towed. * Please be advised, officers are unable to stay at the scene for extended periods waiting for the R/O.

Vehicles will be towed and impounded for up to thirty (30) days for, but not limited to, the following reasons:

  • Unlicensed driver
  • Driver has suspended or revoked license
  • Driver is restricted from operating a vehicle without an adult (over 25) present (has learners permit only)
  • Exhibition of speed (racing)/”Speed Contest” or Reckless Driving CVC 23109.2

California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 22852 requires that all owners of record be notified that the vehicle has been towed and stored.  It is important that vehicle owners ensure that their current address is reflected on vehicle registrations and driver’s licenses.  Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires that changes of address must be reported to them within 10 days.  Vehicles sellers are also required to notify DMV within 10 days of the date of sale. Click here to go to the DMV’s website for more information and forms: CA Department of Motor Vehicles. The California Police Department will not be held responsible for instances where vehicle owners fail to notify DMV regarding changes of address or vehicle ownership.

How to get your towed or stored vehicle released


You may arrange for the release of your NON-IMPOUNDED vehicle by personally bringing the following items:

Be aware, vehicles will only be released to the registered owner of the vehicle.  If the R/O cannot personally come to the Police Station, a NOTARIZED letter giving permission to the specific person picking up the car is required.  If you have questions regarding this policy, please contact your local towing officer

  • Current vehicle registration
  • Proof of insurance
  • Valid driver’s license (School ID, Green Cards, Passports, Costco cards will NOT be accepted as identification or you have the right to drive a motor vehicle).  If you do not have a valid driver’s license, you must bring 2 licensed drivers with you (one to drive your car and one to drive the car that brought you) to drive the vehicle from the tow yard.  No exceptions will be allowed!
  • $114.00 in cash, money order, Visa or MasterCard.  Personal checks will not be accepted.

After presenting the required documentation and paying the administrative fees, you will be provided with a release that must be presented to the towing company.  You will then be required to pay additional fees related to the towing and storage of your vehicle.
Helpful Suggestions

  • Time is money.  In addition to the administrative fee, the cost of the tow is usually $185 for a routine tow.  It could cost more for special circumstances or for larger vehicles, and is based on a one-way tow.  The storage fees may vary by company and average about $45 per day including weekends when our office is not open to issue releases.
  • “After hours” pick up of your vehicle from the tow yard could cause additional fees to be added by the tow company.
  • Ensure you get your vehicle released promptly.  Storage in excess of 45 days could result in your vehicle being sold through a lien sale.  (Amount of time varies by tow company and the circumstances surrounding the storage.)

How may I contest or challenge the decision to tow my vehicle?
Per California Vehicle Code Section 22852, you have the right to contest the circumstances under which your vehicle was towed.  To do so, you must request a hearing after the vehicle has been released.  Contact your local Hearing Officer Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. A hearing will be scheduled, documentation will be gathered and if necessary, the officers and any witnesses involved will be interviewed.  Officers will not be required to attend the hearing unless the Hearing Officer seeks authorization from the Chief of Police.  A decision from the Hearing Officer will be mailed to the registered owner within ten (10) days.  If it is found that your vehicle was towed/stored improperly, you will be reimbursed the administrative fee and the towing and storage fees only.

I’m stuck in a loop. My vehicle won’t pass smog, is not currently registered and I can’t get it smogged because it’s stored and I need a smog certificate to get it registered. What do I do?
The registered owner of the vehicle may go to DMV and get either a Move Slip or a one month extension (Temporary Operating Permit) giving you the time to have the vehicle smogged.  These documents will allow the vehicle to be released.

What do I do if my vehicle can’t be registered because I have outstanding parking tickets on my car?
The R/O must go to DMV, take care of all the outstanding parking tickets and register the vehicle.

What if I have a complaint against the company that towed/stored my vehicle?
Contact the Towing Enforcement Officer.