If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in Illinois, your vehicle may have been impounded by the police officer who arrested you. Once you are released from jail, you may find that retrieving your vehicle is more difficult--and more expensive--than you had thought. If you're facing a DUI charge and are having trouble getting your vehicle back after being impounded, Dolci & Weiland's team of attorneys is here to help.
When Can My Vehicle be Impounded in Illinois?
When you are pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence in Illinois, something must be done with your vehicle following your arrest. Leaving your vehicle in the spot where you parked it at the time you were pulled over can prevent a safety hazard to other drivers. Illinois law sets out the authority of a police officer to remove a person's vehicle following a DUI arrest.
In some cases, you may have a person in the vehicle with you who is sober and can drive your car home. If you were the only person in the car at the time of your arrest, though, or if your passengers were also intoxicated, police officers will have your car removed from the location in which you were pulled over.
In many cases, if there is not a sober person available to drive your car home for you, your arresting officer will call a local towing company and have your vehicle towed from the location in which you were pulled over. In this case, you will need to pay the towing company both towing and storage fees in order for your vehicle to be released.
If you were so intoxicated at the time of your arrest that you could still be drunk at the time you are released, police can put a hold on your vehicle in an attempt to prevent you from driving the vehicle home while still drunk. Hold times vary depending upon the number of prior convictions you have for driving under the influence:
If your vehicle has been impounded and placed on a hold, you may be able to get the car back before the hold period is over. In order to do so, another person must drive the vehicle home, and you must give authorization for this person to operate your vehicle.
How do I Get My Impounded Vehicle Back After a DUI Arrest?
Retrieving your impounded vehicle after an arrest for driving under the influence will take a serious toll on your wallet. Depending on the location in which you live, you will be subject to administrative fines to get your vehicle back--in Chicago, for example, you must pay a whopping $2,000 administrative fee in order to have your car released from impound. If you were arrested for driving under the influence near a park or school, the penalties are even more severe, as the administrative fee rises to $3,000.
On top of the administrative fees collected by the county or city in which you were arrested, you will also need to pay storage fees to the police department or the towing company, depending on which kept your car. These storage fees can be extremely expensive, and only increase as time goes on.
As such, it's critical to work on getting your impounded vehicle back as soon as possible after your arrest. Waiting too long to retrieve your vehicle can lead to storage fees which you are simply unable to pay. If you fail to retrieve your vehicle after a certain period of time, your car can actually be sold, leaving you without a vehicle, but still on the hook for the fees incurred for towing and storing the vehicle.
Contesting Your Vehicle's DUI Impoundment
If you believe that your vehicle was unfairly impounded following your arrest, you can request a hearing before an administrative judge to contest the impoundment. At this stage, seeking the assistance of a seasoned DUI defense attorney is advisable, as proving that the impoundment was wrongful can be an arduous task. Your attorney will present evidence to show that your vehicle should not have been impounded, as well as assert legal defenses to your charge if such defenses exist.
In order to contest your vehicle's impoundment, you must request a preliminary hearing in writing within 15 days of being notified that the car was impounded. If your attorney is able to present sufficient evidence to cause a judge to believe that your vehicle may have been wrongfully impounded, the judge will continue the hearing and order that a full hearing takes place. This hearing is more complex than a preliminary hearing and will include the testimony of police officers and arguments from the city for why the vehicle was not wrongfully impounded.
From arrest to hearing, the process of contesting your impoundment can take over a month. If your DUI defense attorney is successful in proving that your vehicle was wrongfully impounded, the fees for towing and storage of your car will be waived. Unfortunately, if the judge decides that your vehicle's impoundment was proper, you will need to pay the fines, along with the costs of storing the vehicle from the time you were arrested until the time that you retrieve your vehicle after the hearing. These fees can easily cost several thousand dollars.
Facing a DUI Charge? We're Here to Help
If you have been charged with driving under the influence in the state of Illinois and have had your vehicle impounded, contact the Dolci & Weiland office nearest to you today. Our team of DUI defense attorneys is dedicated to providing the help you need to defend against your DUI charge.
Don't try to fight a charge of driving under the influence on your own--your driving privileges are too important to risk losing. To speak with a member of our legal team about your charge, fill out an online case evaluation form or call the office nearest to you today--for our DuPage location, call (630) 261-9098, or for our downtown Chicago location call (312) 238-9007.