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Can your car get impounded for traffic tickets?

Most people view traffic tickets as a minor annoyance. Sure, they cost money. Yes, they might add some points to your driving record. But did you know they could also land your car in the impound lot?

When is your vehicle at risk?

Police can seize vehicles involved in DUIs, drug offenses and certain other crimes, within legal parameters. But they can also impound cars for noncriminal, traffic-related reasons – and even for parking tickets! The specifics depend on city ordinance. In general, however, police have the power to tow:

  • Abandoned vehicles left in public streets or right-of-ways
  • Improperly parked vehicles, including those parked on private property if you don’t have the owner’s permission
  • Vehicles deemed hazardous to the public, which may include those with broken taillights, broken headlights or other repair issues

Police can also deem a vehicle hazardous if they stopped you for driving without insurance, driving on a suspended license, driving under revocation or similar reasons that make it risky for you to continue driving.

Getting your vehicle back

If you’ve had the unpleasant surprise of returning to your car only to find it missing, and an impound notice in its place, you’re not alone. If the car was towed by the city, you can easily call or look online to determine how to get it back.

And if you suspect your car was improperly impounded, it may be worth raising the issue. At minimum, you may be able to get the impound fees waived.