Whether it's a tow yard or an impound lot, the act of getting a vehicle back after a DUI arrest in Texas can be particularly annoying. The good news is that once someone has an idea of what the process looks like, it should become a lot easier.
The problems with getting the vehicle back often involve the towing and impound fees, the need for a valid driver's license after it may have been taken away, etc.
DWI offenses are heavily frowned upon in Texas, so it's no surprise that the current system can make things so difficult for those wondering, "how do I get my car back?"
Why Would Someone Need to Get a Vehicle Back in the First Place?
A couple of circumstances could lead to someone's needing to get back a vehicle impounded or towed following a DWI crime.
First, a vehicle may have been towed to get it off the street. This could occur for a couple of reasons. Perhaps, an incident may have happened that led the driver to be physically incapable of moving the vehicle.
Second law enforcement officers may have had the vehicle impounded as a part of the penalties associated with a DWI case.
Unfortunately, regardless of which of these circumstances is the case, getting the vehicle back can be tremendously difficult.
As simple as it may sound to say, avoiding impoundment following DWI arrests is one of the best-case scenarios. Obviously, being able to do this is not guaranteed.
However, it all depends on the circumstances. Typically, police officers will definitely impound the vehicle if there is evidence that links it to some kind of criminal offense. For example, there could be weapons or some form of contraband in it.
If none of this is the case, then provided the officer decides to use some discretion, there is the option of making arrangements to prevent the vehicle from heading to the impound lot.
For example, if there is a sober person present as a passenger, then that person could simply drive the vehicle to somewhere safe.
Getting the Vehicle Back That Was Towed in Texas
If the police department decided to have your vehicle towed, there may or may not be any restrictions placed on it as a part of the process. Provided there were indeed no restrictions, the best course of action is to try to go for the vehicle in the shortest possible order.
There are several fees, including storage fees, that will continue to compound daily, meaning the bill to get the car back will be hefty. Handling it quickly prevents the cost from mounting too much.
Thankfully, the police officers will indicate the name of the company that did the towing, where the tow yard is, and how the owner can make contact to start working on reclaiming the vehicle.
Apart from the payment requirements, upon attempting to collect the vehicle, there will be a requirement to present a valid license, as well as some form of proof of ownership, and a certificate of valid insurance.
Considering that a DWI charge will often come with driving privileges being revoked, a temporary permit may be all the driver has as the license would've been taken away. A part of DWI defense is assisting clients through such a situation.
Towing Fees to Remember
The towing fees that will need to be handled for the return of the vehicle are:
Tow yard costs
Any daily storage costs that would have accrued
Getting an Impounded Vehicle Back in Texas
Apart from having a tow truck simply take a vehicle to a complex after a DWI arrest, the state of Texas also allows for impounding. This is meant t serve as a deterrent in cases involving any kind of DWI offense.
In this kind of situation, it is a bit more difficult to reclaim the vehicle, but it is by no means impossible. A reputable Texas law firm will be able to assist in the recovery of the car.
Of course, this does not mean that driving privileges will immediately be returned. Additionally, the requirement to pay the required towing and impound fees will still be present.
Depending on the penalties that may have been instituted, there may be a requirement to get an ignition interlock device installed in the vehicle.
For reference, this is a device that will require the driver to breathe into it before the car will start. If there's alcohol present, the vehicle will not move.
There may also be a monthly monitoring cost that will also need to be paid. Note that each case associated with a DWI arrest is unique. Therefore, the specific requirements that will apply will depend on the parameters of the incident.
Preparing for a Vehicle Release
Anyone hoping to get a vehicle back must have the right to its release. If the police had requested the impoundment in the first place, unless the release is approved, getting the car will not be happening.
Sometimes, there isn't the kind of smooth communication flow that should happen, so even if the police department says all is well and the vehicle is clear for release, it's a good idea to call the impound yard to check that it is also aware that the approval has been given.
This process can become very convoluted and difficult, leaving vehicle owners feeling as if they are being given the runaround. If this is the case, the best course of action is always to reach out to an attorney for assistance in getting the vehicle back.
Any impound yard that does not require some form of valid identification for vehicle collection will bear responsibility for any theft that occurs.
Apart from the documents indicated above, it may also be a good idea to go with the vehicle's title or registration.
Much of what is being said here, while general, will cover most requirements. However, it is good to note that different impound yards have different stipulations that they may impose for collection.
Will a Court Hearing Be Necessary?
After a DWI arrest gets to the criminal case level, whichever court is processing it has the right to order whatever kind of relief it sees fit. For example, there may be vehicle impoundment relief.
However, there may be a court hearing required for the said relief, which will need to be attended. Things are straightforward when the driver is also the owner. However, it's quite possible for the driver to have been operating someone else's vehicle.
This is where the matter can get messy. Beyond the DWI itself, the police may make an observation such as a lack of insurance, which may have led to the impoundment.
What if the Arrest Followed a DWI Accident?
Even if the DWI resulted in an accident, this does not mean that the owner of the vehicle will not be able to reclaim it. Of course, it heavily depends on the circumstances surrounding the matter.
For example, in a minor accident that has no impact on the vehicle's ability to be safely driven, an allowance may be made for it to be picked up.
If the vehicle was too damaged to move, the police would likely have had it towed and impounded as it needed to be moved from the roadway.
In this case, things are a little more difficult but not impossible. First, the body repair shop cannot work on the vehicle at the lot. Therefore, it will likely send a tow truck to get the vehicle from storage.
There's also the possibility that the vehicle is being held as evidence following the accident. For example, it may have been a part of an intoxication assault case. If so, the police cannot keep it for an extended time.
Can Forfeiture Happen under Texas Law?
Vehicle forfeiture is a legitimate concern as the State of Texas may see it as being involved in committing a felony. This would not be the case in standard DWI proceedings. However, in a case where there is intoxication manslaughter (find out how many years you get for DUI manslaughter) or a third DWI, for example, it could happen.
If things are going this route, the state has no more than 30 days to serve a notice that they will be filing suit to forfeit the property.
At this point, a top-rated DWI lawyer in Fort Worth should absolutely be retained as there is now a risk of losing the vehicle altogether.
Hire an Experienced Fort Worth Criminal Defense Lawyer After Your DWI Arrest Today!
There were many reasons highlighted above that would indicate that seeking a free consultation with a reputable attorney is a recommended course of action.
While getting your car back can be straightforward in some cases, others require the intervention of legal professionals, especially if there is an ignition interlock device order, alongside other requirements present. Also if you are a minor and would want to know what happens if you get a DUI under 18, it would be best to have a lawyer by your side.
That's where Sparks Law Firm comes into the mix! If you want the expertise of a passionate and experienced Fort Worth DWI defense attorney in your corner, there's no better option.
To schedule a free consultation and have your case reviewed, fill out the short online contact form here or call (817) 381-7846 today!