Vehicle Impoundment and DUI: Will You Be Affected?

If you're facing DUI charges, you're probably wondering exactly what penalties you can expect if you're convicted or plead guilty. While a DUI lawyer could provide you with personal advice, we can offer you general information on DUI sanctions in various states.

What is vehicle impoundment?

"Impoundment" refers to the seizure and holding of property in legal custody - in this case, your car. So, if your vehicle is impounded, it will be taken by the state and kept in state custody until the period of impoundment expires and you redeem your car.

Depending on where you live, your car can be impounded for a variety of reasons, including driving with expired tags, driving without a license (or with a suspended or revoked license), or for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI).

Why Impound Cars after Multiple DUIs?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),

  • about 1/3 of those arrested for DUI are repeat offenders;
  • nearly 18% of fatal crashes involve at least one improperly licensed driver; and
  • drivers with one or more DUI conviction are in fatal car crashes more often than non-repeat offenders.

In light of statistics like these, it's no wonder that many states have passed vehicle impoundment DUI laws, which eliminate the temptation of driving with a suspended or revoked license.

Impoundment for DUIs by State

In most states that punish drunk driving with vehicle impoundment, multiple DUI convictions are required before impoundment is an option. Here is a list of the 27 states that currently have laws on the books that specifically punish DUI with impoundment:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

The Drawbacks of DUI Car Impoundment

While impounding a car can be an excellent way to make sure an impaired driver doesn't get behind the wheel, this sanction also comes with unique problems that have prevented it from becoming more popular as a DUI penalty. Consider the following.

  • The whole family gets punished. If a DUI offender shares a car with other family members, everyone is punished by impoundment, which can often create great hardship.
  • The state may have to pay. If an offender can't afford the costs of towing and storing a vehicle and the vehicle itself isn't worth enough to recover those costs by selling it, the state may end up losing money on impoundment.
  • Storage isn't endless. Storing cars takes up space, which means the state has to have somewhere to keep them. This can get expensive for the state, particularly in urban areas.

Ask Your DUI Lawyer about Vehicle Impoundment Today!

Still wondering whether your car will be seized by the state? A DUI lawyer practicing in your area can answer your questions and help you decide how to move forward with your case. All you need to do to contact a DUI attorney practicing near you is fill out our free form or call us at 1 (877) 349-1311.

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