Among the many other immediate and serious legal consequences of being arrested for a DUI in the State of Florida, such as the administrative suspension of your driver’s license, you’ll also have to contend with recovering the vehicle that was involved in the arrest. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer as to what will happen to a vehicle following a DUI arrest, as it ultimately depends on the circumstances of your arrest, the attitude of the responding officers, and your driving record. Generally speaking, there are three different scenarios that the responding officers may employ to deal with your vehicle following the arrest.
It’s important to understand what these scenarios are as well as your options to recover your vehicle following your arrest so that you may maintain your composure, secure your vehicle, and act quickly to challenge the suspension of your driver’s license. Knowing that your driving privileges, insurance policy rates, and reputation is at stake following a DUI arrest, your best option is always to contact the best DWI lawyer in Clearwater with years of experience handling DUI cases arising out of Pinellas County. Failing to do so could mean losing your eligibility to drive for a period of 30 days, 90 days, 6 months, 12 months, or 18 months, depending on the circumstances of your case and prior record of arrests for DUI.
Scenario 1: Your Vehicle May Be Driven Home By a Friend or Relative
The first scenario the police officer has the discretion to choose from following your arrest is allowing you to ask a sober friend or relative to come pick up your vehicle. It’s important to remember that not only is this option a courtesy, but it’s also generally only possible if the friend or family member is able to arrive within 20 minutes to pick up your car.
Scenario 2: Your Vehicle May Be Parked in the Location Where You Were Arrested
In some cases, when you know someone will be available to pick up your vehicle shortly and there is a legal parking space nearby, the arresting officer may elect to leave your car parked in a secure location. Typically, the arresting officer will only choose to leave your vehicle in this location on the understanding that you, a relative, or a friend will be back to pick it up at a later time. If this method is employed, your car will be locked, and the keys will be returned to you along with the rest of your personal property upon your release from the Pinellas County Jail. Should the arresting officer employ this method without you knowing the exact location of your vehicle, you can always refer to the document charging you with DUI that states the location in which you were arrested.
Scenario 3: Your Vehicle May Be Towed and Impounded
Finally, the most common of these scenarios is when the arresting officer has your vehicle towed to a tow yard by a wrecker, where it will remain until you’re able to pick it up following your release from the Pinellas County Jail. It’s important to act quickly should your vehicle be towed from the scene of your arrest as you will be charged a fee for the towing service as well as storage fees for each day your car remains in the lot.
Releasing your car from the towing company is a bit of a different ballpark than simply picking it up from the scene of the arrest or even the local police station. For starters, you may or may not be given information on which Pinellas towing company is in possession of your vehicle. In that case, you’ll have to contact the police agency that arrested you following your release from jail and ask which towing company is responsible for recovering your vehicle. Once you’ve located the correct towing company, you must then secure an “Impound Release” form from the police agency, demonstrate proof of ownership of the vehicle, and obtain the total amount due for the services associated with the towing and storage of your vehicle.
Typically, in order to demonstrate proof of ownership, you’ll have to supply relevant documents, such as the bill of sale, title, vehicle registration, or lease agreement, along with your identification. This can be difficult when items like your insurance card or registration happen to be locked within your vehicle; however, your next step should be to revisit the arresting law enforcement agency where they can retrieve your information from DAVID (Driver and Vehicle Information Database) and the jail records. In other cases, they may request you return to the impound lot for the purpose of securing your registration from the vehicle itself. It all depends on the arresting law enforcement agency and the attitude of the arresting officers you’re dealing with.
Lastly, if you were arrested by the St. Petersburg Police Department, City Ordinance 20-122 allows the agency to impound your vehicle and not release unless a $500 fine is paid, in addition to towing and storage fees.
Avoid Any Interruptions in Your Driving Privileges
To ensure you face little to no interruption in your driving privilege, you’ll want to partner with the best DWI attorneys in Clearwater. Dealing with a DUI arrest can be a stressful, frustrating, and even humiliating experience; however, with the assistance of the best DWI attorney in Clearwater, you can protect your reputation and your right to drive with ease. Simply give us a call for a free consultation, and we will get to work challenging the suspension of your driver’s license via a Formal Administrative Review Hearing.
For a free consultation with the best DWI attorneys in Clearwater, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.