Sacramento Police Department

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Vehicle Tow FAQ

Driving without a valid license is a serious offense. Statistics show, unlicensed or suspended drivers are the cause of more injury accidents than licensed drivers and many of those accidents are fatal. California has taken a stance to remove the vehicles from unlicensed drivers.

How can I find out if my vehicle has been towed?

You can call our non-emergency dispatch number at (916) 264-5471, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to find out if your vehicle was towed/impounded. Please have your license plate number available.

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How do I get my towed vehicle back?

Registered owners should call (916) 808-6135 to request a post-storage tow hearing. When calling, owners must follow the instructions and prompts to leave a recorded message including their name, phone number, and vehicle license plate number.

Additional Information

The registered owner of a towed vehicle may request a post-storage hearing. Requests must be made within ten (10) days of the date appearing on the "Notice of Stored Vehicle," which is mailed to the registered owner and legal owner of record, or their agents. The post-storage hearing will be conducted within 48 business hours of the request, excluding weekends and holidays. Hearings are done by telephone and are conducted by the Tow Hearing Officer. Tow hearings are recorded.

Once the 30 day impound period is over, or when the person cited for driving without a license obtains a valid California Driver License, the registered owner may obtain the vehicle release document to present at the tow yard in order to pick up the vehicle. Vehicle release documents are issued by the Sacramento Police Department Records Unit located at 5770 Freeport Blvd., Suite 100, Sacramento, CA 95822-3516.

The Sacramento Police Department will verify the driver's license status of the person picking up the vehicle. If the registered owner does not possess a valid driver license, another person with a valid license must accompany the owner. Persons acting as agents for the owner must present a power of attorney document or a notarized letter authorizing the agent to take possession of the vehicle on the owner's behalf. The letter must identify the vehicle being picked up. The vehicle must have current registration or have a temporary operating permit before it can be released.

If a vehicle was impounded for evidence, the owner may obtain a release once the Police Department has completed its investigation. Call the Office of Investigations at (916) 808-0650 to determine who the investigating officer is and discuss the release with him/her.

If a vehicle was seized as a vehicle forfeiture, call the City Attorney's office at (916) 808-5346 for information on release procedures.

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Who pays for the towing and storage fees?

The registered owner of the impounded vehicle is responsible for all towing, storage, lien and release fees:

Vehicle Release Fee: $130
(payable in cash to the Sacramento Police Department)

Regular Tow Fee: $180
(payable to the tow company)

Storage Fees: Currently $50 per day
(payable to the tow company)

What if I absolutely need my car?

The California Legislature intended to provide safer roads for the motoring public by removing vehicles driven by unlicensed, suspended or revoked drivers for 30 days. A serious violation of the law calls for a serious response. Financial hardship or your need of the vehicle for work or school cannot be taken into account. The vehicle will remain in impound for a full 30 days and is released on the 31st day after it was towed, or when the driver at the time it was towed obtains a valid driver's license, whichever comes first.

Why was my vehicle impounded?

Your vehicle was impounded because you or another person who was driving your vehicle has:

  • a suspended driver license
  • a revoked driver license
  • never been issued a driver license

The registered owner can also be cited for allowing an unlicensed driver to drive their vehicle. Here are some common circumstances:

I let 'so and so' drive. I didn't know his or her license was not valid.

If it's your vehicle, it's your responsibility. Under section 14604 CVC, the owner of a vehicle has a duty to ensure the person driving their vehicle possesses a valid license. If you allow or permit anyone, including your spouse, child, friend or relative to drive your vehicle and that person does not have a valid license, you will be responsible for towing and storage fees. You will not have access to your vehicle for 30 days.

He or she took the car without my permission.

To say that someone has taken your car without your permission is not a valid excuse. Ask yourself how this happened. Have you allowed this person to use your car in the past? Do they have access to your vehicle? Did you ask to see their license?

To say that someone without a valid license has taken your vehicle without your knowledge or permission, is in fact, cause for a stolen vehicle report to be filed. That person will be arrested for vehicle theft and prosecuted for that crime.

What if I don't agree with the officer who impounded my car?

The registered owner may request a post-storage hearing. It is a review of the tow as provided for in the California Vehicle Code. This is an administrative review to determine whether the officer had reasonable cause to tow the vehicle.

I am the owner of the car and I have a valid license.

This law follows the driver of the vehicle at the time it was towed. The hold will be lifted if the driver obtains a valid license prior to the end of the 30 days. **The driver's license status is what determines the hold.** The registered owner should come to the police department for a release once the driver of their vehicle acquires a valid license. The fact that you, the owner, have a valid license is not relevant.

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How can I report an abandoned vehicle?

To report abandoned vehicles (or other blights such as illegal dumping), call the City of Sacramento's 311 Information Line (dial 311). You can also submit a complaint online using the City's Code Violation Complaint Form.

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What can be done about illegally parked vehicles, such as those blocking a driveway?

Call the Police Department's non-emergency number at (916) 264-5471, and an officer will be dispatched. If the person who reported the illegally parked vehicle lives at the location, goes out to meet the officer, and explains to them that he or she lives at the location and cannot leave the driveway due to its being blocked, the officer can impound the vehicle.

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What does the law say about vehicle tows?

California Vehicle Code Section 14602.6 and 14607.4

On January 1, 1995, new laws were enacted relating to unlicensed drivers in California. Section 14602.6 authorizes law enforcement to tow and impound a vehicle for 30 days when driven by unlicensed, suspended, or revoked drivers. This means if you or someone who is driving your vehicle does not have a valid license and is stopped by law enforcement officers for any reason, your vehicle will be towed and impounded for thirty (30) days.

Legislative Findings

14607.4 - The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(a) Driving a motor vehicle on the public streets and highways is a privilege, not a right.

(b) Of all drivers involved in fatal accidents, more than 20 percent are not licensed to drive. A driver with a suspended license is four times as likely to be involved in a fatal accident as a properly licensed driver.

(c) At any given time, it is estimated by the Department of Motor Vehicles that of some 20 million driver's licenses issued to Californians, 720,000 are suspended or revoked. Furthermore, 1,000,000 persons are estimated to be driving without ever having been licensed at all.

(d) Over 4,000 persons are killed in traffic accidents in California annually, and another 330,000 persons suffer injuries.

(e) Californians who comply with the law are frequently victims of traffic accidents caused by unlicensed drivers. These innocent victims suffer considerable pain and property loss at the hands of people who flaunt the law. The Department of Motor Vehicles estimates that 75 percent of all drivers whose driving privilege has been withdrawn continue to drive regardless of the law.

(f) It is necessary and appropriate to take additional steps to prevent unlicensed drivers from driving, including the civil forfeiture of vehicles used by unlicensed drivers. The state has a critical interest in enforcing its traffic laws and in keeping unlicensed drivers from illegally driving. Seizing the vehicles used by unlicensed drivers serves a significant governmental and public interest, namely the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of Californians from the harm of unlicensed drivers, who are involved in a disproportionate number of traffic incidents, and the avoidance of the associated destruction and damage to lives and property.

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How can I submit my tow company customer service comments?

To provide your comments regarding the service experience with your tow company, please print the Tow Company Customer Service Survey Form and mail or drop off the completed survey to the address listed on the form.

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