There are a handful of situations in which your car can get impounded in Arizona, for both DUI-related and non-DUI offenses. When it comes to DUIs, there are several conditions that must be met in order for a police officer to impound your vehicle.
Arizona DUI Impoundment Laws
In general, your car may be impounded if you get an extreme DUI or aggravated DUI. An extreme DUI applies when your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .15% or higher – nearly two times the legal limit.
Aggravated DUI occurs when:
- The offense causes an accident
- A minor under 15 is in the car at the time of arrest
- The driver’s license is suspended or revoked
- The driver has multiple DUIs or past criminal record
According to A.R.S. 28-3511, a police officer can impound a vehicle for any of these DUIs. There are additional underlying circumstances that may also lead to vehicle impoundment.
Minors who are pulled over with any amount of alcohol in their system can have their vehicle impounded, as well as drivers who are required to use an ignition interlock system but have failed to do so. In both cases, the BAC of the driver is irrelevant.
A driver’s car can also be impounded if the driver:
- Doesn’t have a valid license, or never has obtained one
- Is in an accident without proof of insurance and has a suspended license
Essentially, there must be a combination of factors present in order to have a car impounded after a DUI. If you have a normal DUI with a BAC of at least .08% but less than .15%, and no other mitigating factors are present, then the car does not have to be impounded.
What Happens After DUI Impoundment?
If your vehicle is impounded after a DUI arrest, you’ll be given a Notice of Impoundment that will have information related to your arrest, the location of your vehicle and contact information for the facility holding your vehicle.
As per Arizona law, your car will be impounded for 30 days.
As part of A.R.S. 28-3511, you have the right to a hearing in order to release your vehicle before the 30-day mark. Hearings are available to everyone, but they’re granted only for some situations, including:
- The driver has had their license reinstated
- The car was reported as stolen at time of arrest
- The car is subject to bailment
- The car’s owner was not driving the car at time of arrest
If your situation falls into one of these areas, you can request a hearing by contacting the police department responsible for the impoundment. Most stations require you to schedule a hearing appointment within 10 days of the vehicle’s impoundment.
Getting Your Vehicle Back After a DUI Impoundment
Once the 30 days is up, or if you’ve had your car released early after a successful hearing, you’ll be responsible for paying the fees associated with holding your car. The fees will go to the towing company, but you’ll have to go through the police department for all the paperwork you need to give to the tow company.
There are also administrative fees to pay, and if you request to have your car released after a tow company’s normal business hours, they may charge you more for access to your car. Arizona law gives tow companies the opportunity to pursue ownership of a vehicle that has not been released after 10 days past the 30-day mark, so you’ll want to release your car as soon as possible.
Do You Need a Superior DUI Defense?
Vehicle impoundment is frustrating, but a DUI may come with far worse consequences. If you need help getting the most effective defense in court, contact JacksonWhite Attorneys at Law. Our legal team can work to reduce your penalties and sentence.
Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.