What Happens to Your Car After a DUI?

Updated on 09/19/2021 / Under

When you drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Illinois, you could face many consequences, including hefty fines, loss of driving privileges, and jail time. Also, you may be worrying about what happens to your car after a DUI.

If you're pulled over for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may have a tough time because you'll lose access to your car. You can’t run errands, drive to work, or visit your friends and family, and you may wonder how long it’ll take to get your car back. Also, you might be worried that you'll never see it again.

By learning about vehicle impoundment in Illinois, you can determine when you can expect to see your car again and get back on the road, or you may find out that it’ll be a long time before you're eligible to operate a motor vehicle again. No matter what criminal consequences you’re facing, contact the experienced criminal defense lawyers in Chicago at Ktenas Law to learn about your legal rights and the legal options you may have.

What Does Car Impoundment Mean?

Impoundment means placing your car into an impound yard, or a tow lot. It’s where cars are held until their owners can come and claim them. If the owners never claim their cars, then the impounding lot or tow lot may recycle the metal from the car, sell it at an auction to make a profit, or strip its parts for a wrecking yard.

The police department or another government agency can impound your car for various reasons, including a DUI. Also, police officers may seize your car if you were illegally parking it, they found illegal drugs or weapons in your car, or you abandoned your car. Further, you don't have a valid driver's license or your license was suspended, that too may warrant a car impoundment.

A court often grants authority the law enforcement or another government agency the authority to impound your car. Law enforcement officers will find your car and then take it to a tow lot. It's essential to note that police officers don’t have to tell you that your car is being impounded.

Related: Answering Common DUI FAQs

When Can My Car be Impounded In Illinois?

When you're pulled over at a traffic stop and arrested for driving while drunk in Illinois, something must happen to your car following your DUI arrest. Leaving your motor vehicle in the place where you had parked it at the time of your DUI arrest can prevent safety hazards to other drivers. Illinois traffic law sets out that gives law enforcement officers and other government agencies the authority to impound a person's vehicle following a DUI arrest.

Sometimes, you may have a passenger in the vehicle who is sober and can drive your car home. If you were the only person in the car at the time of your DUI arrest, though, or if your passengers were also impaired, police officers will have your car removed from the location where you were pulled over.

Often, if there isn't a sober driver available to drive your car home for you, the arresting police officer will contact a local towing company and have them tow your vehicle from the location where you were pulled over. Here, you must pay the towing company both towing fees and storage fees for your vehicle to be released from the tow lot.

What Happens to Your Car After a DUI?

If you were so drunk at the time of your DUI arrest, you could still be drunk at the time you're released. Law enforcement can put a hold on your car to bar you from driving the vehicle home while still intoxicated. The duration which your car is held varies depending on the number of previous criminal charges you have for impaired driving:

  • 12 hours for first-time DUI offenders
  • 24 hours for second-time DUI offenders
  • 48 hours for third-time DUI offenders

If your car has been impounded by law enforcement officers or towed by a towing company, you can get it back before the hold period is over. To do so, a temporary driver must drive your car home, and you must give authorization for this temporary driver to drive your vehicle.

How Do You Get Back Your Impounded Car After a DUI Arrest?

Getting back your impounded vehicle after a DUI arrest will take a serious toll on your wallet. Depending on the location where you live, you may be subject to administrative fines to retrieve your vehicle. For instance, in Chicago, you'll have to pay an administrative fee of $2,000 to have your car released from impound. If you were arrested for DUI near a school or park, the criminal penalties are even more severe because the administrative fee rises to $3,000.

Besides the administrative fees, you will also have to pay impound fees and storage fees to the police department or the towing company, depending on where your car was kept. These storage fees are extremely costly, and only increase as time passes.

It's crucial to work on getting your impounded car back as soon as possible after your DUI arrest. Waiting too long to get back your vehicle can result in storage fees that you can't pay. If you can't get your vehicle back after a certain period of time, your car could eventually be sold, leaving you without a car, but still on the hook for the expenses incurred for impounding and storing the vehicle.

Related: 10 Tips For Hiring The Best DUI Lawyer

If you have been charged with a DUI in Illinois and your vehicle has been impounded, you must contact a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Our legal team of DUI criminal defense attorneys is committed to offering the legal help you need to beat your DUI charges.

Don't fight a DUI charge on your own--your driving privileges are too essential to risk losing. To speak with one of our experienced Chicago DUI lawyers about your DUI charge, call (312) 756-8652 for a free case evaluation. 

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