Can I get a car out of impound without insurance?

Getting a car out of impound without insurance isn’t an option. If your car has been impounded for no insurance or no registration, you'll need to present your registration and proof of insurance to get your car out of impound. Purchase insurance fast to avoid impound fees, which may be between $100 and $1,000.

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Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Cynthia Lanctot is an insurance professional with ten years of industry experience. Cynthia is licensed in several states, and holds an associate in claims law, as well as a bachelor’s degree in English. Cynthia’s experience includes the New England and Northeast states. She currently works as a liability claims professional and an occasional online contributor.

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Reviewed by Cynthia Lanctot
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UPDATED: Mar 30, 2021

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Impounded Auto Summary Stats
Things to KnowSource
Currently 22 states have specific towing and impoundment lawsCenters for Disease Control
Your vehicle can be impounded when it's used to commit a crime, when it's considered evidence of a crime, when the vehicle is considered to be a threat of public safety, and a number of other reasonsNolo
Driving uninsured is illegal and can result in vehicle impoundment if you're caughtInsurance Information Institute
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Your vehicle was impounded, which can happen for a variety of reasons. But what do you do next? What documentation is necessary to get your vehicle back?

You may be asking, can I get a car out of impound without insurance? Typically the answer is no. You need insurance to get a car out of impound. Since getting a car out of impound without insurance isn’t an option, what kind of auto insurance coverage do you need? How can you get it? Can you use temporary car insurance? Read this article to learn more.

Before we get started, use your ZIP code to make sure you have the coverage you need if your vehicle is ever impounded.

Auto Insurance and Vehicle Impound

So the police impounded your car. How do you get it back? Can you get a car out of impound without insurance? Do you have to pay to get your car out of impound? Read through the next few sections to learn the answers to these and other questions about impounded vehicles.

Why did my car get impounded?

Your car can be impounded for a number of reasons, according to Nolo. You might discover your car was impounded for no insurance, or because you were driving without a license. It could also be impounded because you were arrested for a driving infraction, were illegally parked, your vehicle was used in a crime or is considered evidence of a crime, and more.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that 22 states have specific impound laws defined at this time. Take a look at this table to see the details.

Vehicle Impoundment and Confiscation Laws by State
StateVehiclce Impoundment and Confiscation Laws
AlabamaA vehicle may be impounded if a driver is found to be driving with a revoked license or driving with a license suspended because of a DWI-related offense or refuses a breath test. However, the law provides that the vehicle will be released to the registered owner if the offender is not the owner. Further, police can release the vehicle, rather than impounding it, if it is determined that the driving is due to an emergency. This law does not seem to be aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by separating offenders from their vehicles.
AlaskaThe municipalities may enact ordinances to impound or confiscate motor vehicles for violations of local DWI offenses or refusal of chemical test laws for first and subsequent offenses. However, these laws are not mandatory.
ArizonaUnder Arizona’s temporary vehicle impoundment law, the offender’s vehicle may be immediately impounded for 30 days if the driver is arrested for any of the following offenses: (1) DWR for any reason; (2) DWS where the suspension was based on driving under the influence; (3) DWS where the suspension was based on a drunk-driving offense; or (4) DWS where the suspension was based on the frequency of traffic law violation convictions. The vehicle may be released before 30 days if the offender’s driving privileges have been reinstated or if the offender’s spouse enters a five-year agreement with the state to not to allow an unlicensed driver to operate the vehicle.
CaliforniaCalifornia has two vehicle impoundment laws. The first law states that a vehicle owned and driven by an offender may be impounded up to 30 days for a first or second DWI offense and up to 90 days for third and subsequent offenses, if the offense is committed within five years of a prior offense. This first law prevents the vehicle from being impounded if it is the only vehicle available to the family or if another person has a community-property interest in the vehicle. The second law states that the vehicle owned and driven by the offender may be impounded for up to six months for a first DWI offense and up to 12 months for a subsequent DWI offense. We found no information on reasons one law might be enforced rather than the other. There is no mention of laws concerning chemical test refusals.
ConnecticutConnecticut has a vehicle impoundment law. The vehicle may be impounded for refusing a chemical test, which is a criminal offense and a felony DWI for a third or subsequent DWI offense. An ALR suspension counts as a prior DWI offense. There is also limited vehicle impoundment of 48 hours if a driver is arrested for drinking and driving with a suspended or revoked license. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders.
Washington D.C.The District of Columbia also has a limited vehicle impoundment law, under which impoundment is limited to 24 hours. However, the vehicle may be released to a legally licensed driver.
FloridaFlorida has a vehicle impoundment law, under which the vehicle that is used and owned in a first DWI offense may be impounded for ten days. This action may not be concurrent with probation or imprisonment. For a second DWI offense within five years, the vehicle can be impounded for 30 days and, for a third DWI offense within ten years, for 90 days. This applies to all vehicles owned by the offender and may not be concurrent with probation or imprisonment. However, unlike first DWI offenses, it must be concurrent with the driver’s license revocation. For first, second, and third DWI offenses, these actions are conditions of mandatory probation; however, the court may decide not to order vehicle impoundment if the family has no other means of transportation. There also is a limited vehicle impoundment law for a DWI offense if, at the time of the DWI offense, the offender was driving with a license suspended for a prior DWI offense. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders.
IllinoisIf the DWI offender is the registered owner, then the vehicle can be impounded for 24 hours for a second DWI offense or 48 hours for a third DWI offense. The vehicle may be released sooner to a competent, licensed driver with the owner’s consent. There also is a limited vehicle impoundment law, under which law enforcement can impound a driver’s vehicle for not more than 12 hours following a DWI arrest. Limited impoundment may be used if the officer reasonably believes that the arrested offender will commit another DWI offense if released. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders.
IowaFor a second or subsequent DWI offense, the vehicle owned and used by the offender can be impounded or immobilized and the license plate seized (and registration confiscated if the vehicle is in custody) by law enforcement authorities. New registration plates are issued only at the end of the driver’s license revocation period or 180 days, whichever is longer.
KannsasFor DWI violations, judges, at their discretion, may order vehicle impoundment or immobilization of the vehicle used in the offense, for up to one year. The offender pays all costs. Judges must take into account hardship to family. This law went into effect on July 1, 2003.
MaineMaine also has a temporary vehicle impoundment law. The vehicle used in a DWI offense or for DWS for a prior DWI offense may be seized; however, the vehicle may be released after eight hours. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders.
MarylandThe vehicle can be impounded or immobilized (by suspending license plates) for not more than 180 days if the driver’s license is currently suspended for a prior alcohol offense.
MinnesotaUnder Minnesota’s vehicle impoundment law, a vehicle may be impounded after a DWI arrest and released to the vehicle owner with proof of a valid driver’s license and insurance. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders.
MississippiFor a second or subsequent DWI offenses, all vehicles owned by the offender must be impounded or immobilized at the time of conviction and remain so until the license suspension has expired. If any other person must use the vehicle, an ignition interlock may be required as an alternative to impoundment or immobilization.
MissouriMissouri has a vehicle impoundment or vehicle forfeiture law; however, under Missouri law, cities with populations higher than 100,000 can make their own vehicle impoundment or forfeiture laws. The state law applies to the vehicle operated by the offender regardless of ownership; consequently, the vehicle is subject to impoundment or forfeiture if the driver has had one or more DWI offenses, including illegal per se. The vehicle also can be impounded or forfeited if the offender is driving with a license suspended for a prior DWI offense or for a DWI and involuntary manslaughter offense. Last, the vehicle can be impounded or forfeited if the driver has had two or more DWI offenses (including illegal per se) and, for either offense, had a BAC of 0.08 or greater (0.02 or greater for those under 21) or if the driver has refused to submit to a chemical test under the implied-consent law.
NebraskaAn offender who is driving with a license suspended for a prior DWI or an implied-consent conviction may have his or her vehicle impounded for not less than ten days and not longer than 30 days. An offender under 21 may have his or her vehicle impounded if he or she has a BAC of 0.02 or greater.
New JerseyAccording to Century Council (2003), New Jersey has a vehicle impoundment law under which an offender’s vehicle must be impounded for 12 hours at the time of arrest. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders. NHTSA (2003a) does not report any vehicle impoundment laws in New Jersey, which raises a question as to which source is correct.
New MexicoNew Mexico also has a vehicle immobilization law, under which a vehicle may be immobilized for 30 days if the offender was driving with a revoked license, unless immobilization poses a hardship to the family.
OregonVehicle impoundment or immobilization is limited to one year for a second or subsequent DWI offense or for driving with a suspended license. This action is at the court’s discretion and applies to all vehicles owned and used by the offender, even if not used in the offense. The offender must pay the costs of removing, storing, or immobilizing the vehicle.
VirginiaAny vehicle used in a DWI offense may be impounded or immobilized for 30 days if the offender was driving with a license suspended because of a prior DWI, an administrative per se violation, or chemical test refusal. In addition, vehicles owned by an offender may be impounded or immobilized for up to 90 days even if the vehicles were not used in the offense. There are family hardship exceptions for households with only one vehicle.
WashingtonWashington has a vehicle impoundment law. In addition to impounding the vehicle for other possible penalties for driving with a license suspended for a prior DWI conviction, authorities may also impound the vehicle for not more than 30 days on a first offense. For a second offense, the vehicle may be impounded for not more than 60 days or, for a third offense, not more than 90 days.
WisconsinThere is a policy in Wisconsin that allows temporary vehicle impoundment, as part of the immobilization process. This is not a law, just a policy, and is used only temporarily and at the discretion of officers in the field.
WyomingWyoming has a policy that allows for temporary vehicle impoundment. An offender’s vehicle may be impounded following an arrest if a sober driver is unavailable. This law seems intended to prevent the offender from operating the vehicle immediately after the drinking-and-driving offense, rather than being aimed at long-term prevention of drinking and driving by offenders.
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Can your car get towed for no insurance in Texas? Possibly, but as indicated by the table, there isn’t a specific law on the books that mandates this.

Asking how to get my car out of impound without insurance? Read on to learn what you’ll need to get your car out of impound.

Can I get my car out of impound without insurance?

The short answer is no. You cannot get your car out of impound without insurance. In fact, no insurance coverage may be the reason your vehicle was impounded in the first place (we’ll go into more detail later).

So how do I get my car out of impound without insurance? The answer should be obvious: you can’t. So if you’re currently uninsured, the first step is to purchase coverage of at least the minimum liability car insurance required in your state as quickly as you can (the longer your vehicle is in impound, the more you’ll pay, which we’ll discuss later).

What is required to get a car out of impound?

The first step is to find out where your vehicle is. If you weren’t informed by the police (which in some cases won’t happen, depending on how and why your vehicle was impounded), you may be able to search for your vehicle using the vehicle identification number (VIN) and license plate number.

Here’s a video to help you locate the VIN on your vehicle.

With this information, you can call the local motor vehicle department or parking authority to find out which impound lot has your vehicle. Once you’ve identified where to go, you’ll need to collect the appropriate documentation to be able to drive your car off the lot.

In most cases, you’ll need your driver’s license and proof of current insurance at a minimum, but it’s a good idea to call the impound lot to make sure you know what you’ll need.

They’ll also be able to tell you how much you’ll be expected to pay when you come to pick up your vehicle. Impound fees can range anywhere from $100 to $1,000, depending on how and when your vehicle was impounded. The longer your vehicle is in impound, the more your fee will likely be and will often include administrative fees, towing fees, storage fees, and more.

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What happens if you can’t afford to get your car out of impound?

Your first step in working to get your vehicle out of impound when you can’t afford it is to reach out to the impound lot to find out if they offer payment plans. If not, you’ll have to consider other financial options, like loans

If your vehicle is in impound for too long (the duration depends on the lot and state laws), the impound lot will sell your vehicle at auction to both get rid of it and to cover the cost of housing the vehicle.

Does the owner have to be present to get a car out of impound?

If you’re looking to get a car out of impound without the owner present, the laws vary depending on the state. In some states you may not be able to get a car out of impound if the owner of the vehicle isn’t present.

However, in states like California, someone can be the designated representative or agent of the owner. In this case, a letter of authorization from the registered owner must be provided, along with the individual’s driver’s license, vehicle registration, proof of insurance, etc.

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Can I get a car out of impound without insurance?: The Bottom Line

If your vehicle is impounded for any reason, you won’t be able to get it out of impound without insurance coverage. Along with proof of insurance, you’ll need a driver’s license and sometimes the VIN, along with whatever you may owe in fees.

It’s best to call the impound lot ahead of time to find out exactly what they require. If you’re unable to pay the impound fees, your vehicle will be sold at auction.

Use your ZIP code to get a free quote on auto insurance today so you’ll be able to get your vehicle out of impound should you need to do so.

Frequently Asked Questions: Can I get a car out of impound without insurance?

You already know the answer to can you get a car out of impound without insurance, but if you still have questions about how to get a car out of impound, read through these frequently asked questions to learn more.

Why do I need impound insurance?

Typically you don’t purchase impound insurance (in fact there isn’t a specific coverage referred to as “impound insurance”). Instead, you need traditional insurance coverage of at least the minimum liability coverage required in your state to get your vehicle out of impound.

Can I get my car out of impound without the title?

If you wondering how to get a car out of impound without the title, you’ll need to have some other form of proof that you own the vehicle (like your vehicle registration).

If you don’t own the vehicle, you’ll need documentation proving you’re the authorized agent of the vehicle owner, as we noted earlier.

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Can I get my car out of impound for free?

If you’re asking how to get your car out of impound for free, the truth is you probably can’t. In some rare cases you may be able to get free legal help to prove your vehicle was unfairly impounded, but don’t count on this as an option.

If you can’t afford to get your car out of impound, you’ll need to find alternative financing or a payment plan (if the impound lot offers this) to avoid your vehicle being sold at auction.

Do you have to pay to get your car out of impound if it was stolen?

It depends on where you live, though the answer is typically yes, because the impound lot must be paid for services rendered. For example, in Texas, the answer is yes. Take a look at this video to learn more.

However, if you have comprehensive insurance coverage, your insurance may cover the cost of your impound fees, if your vehicle is in impound due to theft. You’ll need to speak to a licensed insurance agent to find out if your coverage includes payment of impound fees in the event your vehicle was impounded as the result of theft.

References:

  1. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/if-the-police-impound-car-can-search.html
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/calculator/factsheet/impoundment.html
  3. https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/vehicle-code/veh-sect-14602-7.html

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