Can I get a car out of impound without insurance?

Along with required proof of insurance, it will cost money to get an impounded car back. Read on to learn more about getting your car out of impound and how much it will cost you.

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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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Written by Sara Routhier
Director of Outreach Sara Routhier

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
Licensed Agent Cynthia Lanctot

UPDATED: May 25, 2022

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A Concise Overview

  • Getting an impounded car back requires proof of insurance 
  • It will cost money to get your vehicle back in your possession
  • Without insurance, there are other ways to provide evidence that the car is yours 

Your car can be towed to an impound lot for a plethora of reasons. If you do not promptly remove your vehicle from the lot, your car will likely be sold at an auction. To avoid this, it is important for you to understand the process of repossession and how much it costs for an impounded car.

There are two vital facets to consider while dealing with an impounded car. First, you can’t get a car out of impound without insurance. However, there are ways to handle an impounded vehicle if you do not have insurance at the time of the event. Second, it will cost money to get your car back from the impound lot. How much does it cost for an impounded car? The cost varies depending on the circumstances. Make sure you understand insurance and driving laws to avoid your car being impounded in the first place.

Can I get my car out of impound without insurance?

No. You may not remove your car from an impound lot without insurance. Your lack of insurance may be the reason why your vehicle underwent impoundment in the first place.

If you do not have insurance, you must obtain temporary auto insurance or at least the minimum liability car insurance required in your state as soon as possible.

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What is required to get a car out of impound?

After your vehicle is taken, you must first find out which impound lot is housing your vehicle. Usually, police will inform drivers of the location and details of the impoundment. However, sometimes police do not notify drivers. In this case, you may call your local department of motor vehicles or parking authority and ask them to search for your car using your vehicle identification number and license plate number.

To successfully get your vehicle back into your possession, you will need to provide the impound lot with your driver’s license and proof of current insurance at a minimum. Ask the impound lot if any other documentation is necessary and how much it costs to pick up your car.

Some state impoundment laws require other conditions to be met before you may pick up your vehicle. For example, some states will not return a vehicle if the owner of the vehicle is not present for the transaction. If you do not own the vehicle, you will probably need documentation asserting that you are an authorized agent of the vehicle owner.

How much does it cost to get a car out of impound? 

Unfortunately, you will not be able to get your car out of impound for free. In the rarest circumstances, you may receive free legal help in the case of an unfairly towed vehicle.

Generally, impound fees average from $100 to $1,000, which includes towing and storage. However, the exact cost for an impounded car depends on when and how your vehicle was towed. As a rule of thumb, the longer your vehicle remains at the lot, the more it will cost to remove it.

If you cannot afford to remove your car from impound, you must find an alternative financing option or payment plan. The impound lot housing your vehicle may offer optional payment plans, though this route is not always available for drivers.

What happens if I cannot afford to remove my vehicle from an impound lot? 

If you cannot afford to remove your vehicle from the impound lot, you should first ask if they offer payment plans. If the impound lot offers no such plan, you must consider alternative financing options like banking loans.

However, if you have comprehensive insurance coverage, your insurance may cover the cost of your impound fees, especially if your vehicle is at an impound lot due to theft. Contact a licensed insurance agent with your provider to find out if your coverage includes payment of impound fees in the event of vehicle impoundment as the result of theft.

Whatever the case, attempt to remove your vehicle from impound as soon as possible. Depending on the impound lot and state law, your car may get sent to an auction to cover the cost of the vehicle.

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Auto Insurance and Impound Laws

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 22 states currently enforce specific impound laws. So, vehicle confiscation and impoundment rules depend on the jurisdiction in which you reside.

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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Your vehicle may end up in an impound lot because you lack auto insurance or drive without a registered license. Your vehicle may also be towed while you are arrested for a driving infraction or illegally parked. Additionally, your vehicle may be confiscated if the police suspect that it was present during a crime or admitted it as evidence in a criminal investigation.

While there is no such thing as impound insurance, traditional insurance coverage or minimum liability coverage may be enough to get your vehicle out of impound, depending on state law. If you are concerned about the possibility of vehicle impoundment, review your auto insurance policy. The language in your auto insurance policy will be the best indicator of how much, if anything, gets covered in the event of vehicle impoundment.

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

While impound costs average from several hundred to a thousand dollars, you may not get your car out of impound without auto insurance, regardless of how much money you have in your pocket. If you wish to minimize the risk of losing your vehicle to impoundment, consider investing in auto insurance. If you invest in a full coverage policy, your provider may even cover impoundment fees if your car is ever impounded.

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