What Happens to Your Car When You Get Arrested?

February 13, 2024

Getting pulled over for speeding or for driving while intoxicated (DUI) is stressful enough. But what happens to your car if the traffic stop ends in an arrest?

The law states that if you get arrested during a routine traffic stop, the police can search your vehicle if they have probable cause to believe there is evidence of a crime. If the officer reasonably believes that your car is full of weapons or illegal drugs, they can also have it searched without a warrant.

After a police officer has finished searching your car they will have it towed to a local holding facility, often called a tow lot. They will also issue a property invoice called a voucher with a list of all the items that they took from your car. This is usually the last time that you will see your car until you are released from jail and are able to retrieve it.

Once the vehicle is towed, a temporary driver will be assigned to drive it from the holding facility back home. They will need to have a valid drivers license and proof of insurance. If you want your car back, you will need to ask for a hearing before an administrative judge. This type of hearing is called an OATH hearing.

During an OATH hearing the police must prove that they acted in good faith and retrieved your car for a legitimate reason. They will also have to show that the car was used in a crime. Having an attorney to defend you at the OATH hearing is highly recommended.


Traffic Dave is on a mission to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.
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