If you were arrested for DUI in Arizona you very likely had your vehicle impounded. How soon you can get your car back will depend on what type of charges you are facing.
The first thing to do is check with the vehicle impound report that was given to you by the police officer. It will often be pink or yellow and look similar to this.
Check to see under what legal authority your vehicle was impounded. The police will cite A.R.S. 28-872 if you are charged with DUI impaired to the slightest degree (28-1381A1), DUI .08 or greater (28-1381 A2) or DUI Drugs (28-1381 A3). Conversely, the police will cite A.R.S. 28-3511 if you are charged with DUI .15 or greater (28-1382 A1), DUI .20 or greater (28-1382 A2), or Aggravated DUI (28-1383). Briefly here are the differences and what it means for you.
ARS 28-872: If Charged with DUI Impaired to the Slightest Degree; DUI .08 or greater or DUI Drugs You May Retrieve Your Vehicle Immediately.
ARS 28-872 gives a police officer the discretion to impound the automobile of anyone who is placed under arrest for DUI. While it is discretionary, many police departments will, as a matter of policy, impound every vehicle of a driver suspected of DUI.
The good news is you should be able to get your vehicle out of impound immediately, during normal business hours. Consult the impound form you were given for the pick up location and a list of documentation you will need to bring with you. Finally, you will be charged an impound and administrative fee. These fees will vary city by city. Call ahead to find out the exact amount and the forms of payment accepted.
ARS 28-3511: If Charged with DUI .15 or greater; DUI .20 or greater; or Aggravated DUI There will be a 20 Day Hold on your Vehicle.
A.R.S. 28-3511 requires the police to impound your vehicle if you were arrested for DUI .15 or greater, DUI .20 or greater or Aggravated DUI. Not only that, but there will also be a 20-day hold on your vehicle. This hold means you will have to wait 20 days before you can retrieve your car. Please note, this hold used to be for 30 days but changes to the law have reduced it to 20 days.
Is It Possible to Retrieve your Vehicle Early when there is a 20 Day Hold?
Under limited circumstances, it may be possible to get your vehicle out of impound even if there is a 20-day hold. The most common way to retrieve your vehicle early is to have your spouse retrieve it. Under A.R.S. 28-3512 your spouse has the right to retrieve your vehicle out of impound early. In exchange, your spouse will have to sign an agreement promising not to let you operate the vehicle for one year or for as long as your right to drive is suspended. If he/she violates the agreement he/she is subject to a civil fine of $250.
If you are not married you may still retrieve your vehicle if there is another owner listed on your car’s title. If so, that person may also retrieve the vehicle immediately.
A co-owner on your title that is often overlooked is your lender. If you are still paying off your car loan it is very likely that your financing company is also listed on the title as the co-owner of your vehicle. Thus, your lender has the right to get your vehicle out of impound. Moreover, if you lease your vehicle your lender may be the only party that can authorize your vehicle’s release.
If this applies to you contact the co-owner immediately and see if he/she/it can assist you in getting your vehicle out of impound. The longer a vehicle sits in impound the more likely it is it will be damaged or stolen so it is in your co-owner’s interest to secure its release as soon as possible.
Can I Get the Vehicle Out of Impound If I Was Driving a Rental, Friend’s Car, Employer’s Car, or Otherwise Do Not Own the Vehicle that was Impounded?
No. Only the vehicle’s owner can claim it out of impound. The owner of the vehicle will receive a letter notifying them that their vehicle has been impounded so there really is no way to avoid the fact that your friends/boss/family member etc. will find out their car was impounded. So it is probably best to be upfront with them with the whereabouts of their vehicle. Do, however, avoid making any incriminating statements or admissions while your matter is pending.
Can I Still Drive If My Vehicle Was Impounded?
It is possible. Your license suspension and vehicle impoundment are two separate matters. One does not have any effect on the other. Please see our article “When Does My License Suspension Start After an Arizona DUI” on dealing with your license suspension for more information.
How Can My Vehicle Be Impounded if I Haven’t Been Convicted of a Crime?
The short answer is because Arizona law allows for it. Yes, it is unfair that you are being punished BEFORE you actually get convicted of anything. It is not uncommon for those that receive holds on their vehicle to later have some or all of the charges dropped. But as you will soon discover, if you are charged with a DUI your rights and privileges are in serious jeopardy and you need to contact an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible.
Can I Request a Hearing to get my Car Out of Impound?
Under A.R.S. 28-1315 if you feel your vehicle was wrongly impounded you do have the option to request a hearing. The hearing must be requested within 10 days and with the police department that impounded your car. If the police department has not set up a hearing process then the hearing will be in the Justice Court where the arrest occurred.
The fact that you feel you are not guilty of DUI is not a defense to the Impound Hearing. You will only be successful if one of the following applies:
- The hold is due to a suspended license but the driver has had their license reinstated
- The vehicle was reported as stolen at the time of the arrest
- The 20-day hold was due to a clerical error, e.g. you were cited for Regular DUI but the Officer mistakenly listed Extreme DUI on the Impound form
- The vehicle’s owner requests the hearing and can show he/she was not driving the car at the time of the arrest
If you need assistance with getting your vehicle out of impound or defending your DUI please give us a call at 480-306-8875 and schedule a free consultation or click this link to go directly to our DUI Information Page for the most up to date status of Arizona’s DUI laws.