What Happens to Your Vehicle

Arrested for a DUI in Bakersfield?

A driving under the influence arrest always has two key components: the driver and their vehicle. For as much trouble as you might be facing after being arrested and charged with a DUI in California, your car might be in just as much, if not more. To prepare yourself to challenge your DUI charges, you need to fully understand what happens in the process from start to finish, and that includes what happens to your vehicle.

If you have questions that need answering right away, call our Bakersfield DUI attorneys at (661) 735-1038.

Initial Consequences and Towing

If a highway patrol officer has decided that you are too intoxicated to drive and puts you in cuffs, you are going to be at the police station before you know it. Their squad car probably is not a Jeep, so it cannot bring your vehicle with you. So what happens to it?

In most cases, the police will have partnered with a local tow company for situations just like this. With one phone call, a tow truck arrives after you have already been taken to the station and hitches up your vehicle for towing. Where it goes from there depends on a number of details surrounding your arrest. If it does get towed, you can bet that the fees for the towing are going to be passed onto you.

There are usually only two ways to avoid having your vehicle towed after a DUI arrest:

  1. Sober passenger: The police may allow a sober, legally-licensed passenger to drive your vehicle home if you permit it. Although, they might also be in cuffs for allowing you to drive while intoxicated so this might not always be an option.
  2. Safe location: If you were not pulled over on the side of the highway but instead in a parking lot or another location relatively clear of traffic, it may be deemed that your car is safe to stay there for the time being. This is an uncommon practice, though, so you should not bank on it.

Impounding Your Vehicle

Every state has its own set of laws regarding when a vehicle should be impounded after a DUI, or whether or not it should be stowed in a tow yard and for how long. In California, your vehicle will usually not be impounded for a considerable amount of time until you have been arrested for your third DUI offense in five years. This is actually a lenient side of the law, as impoundment is an incredibly expensive process that is usually seen as excessively punishing for first- or second-time offenders.

Rather than impounding or confiscating your car, the criminal justice system is likely to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. Not only does this device stop you from driving if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is too high, but the state also taxes you for each month it is installed. In this way, it is a strange win-win: you can continue to drive your car so long as you are sober, and the state gets money out of you all the same.

Challenging Impoundment and Other Penalties

The decision to confiscate your vehicle after a DUI is not usually a criminal matter, so it will not go to criminal court. A civil court will oversee the process instead, which allows you a chance to appeal the decision or otherwise challenge it upfront. If you are facing serious criminal penalties for a DUI arrest, you should retain a trustworthy DUI lawyer and ask them about also fighting your car’s impoundment.

At Campbell Whitten, our Bakersfield DUI attorneys can handle your DUI case top to bottom. From questioning the validity of the evidence against you to arguing that vehicle impoundment is far too excessive for your alleged wrongdoing, we are always hard-hitting and quick-to-the-draw for our clients. We pride ourselves in being cutting-edge and creative, never looking at any case from just one angle, and we would be happy to bring that level of service to you.

Contact us today and we can discuss your legal options in a free case analysis.