The State of California can impound your vehicle for one of several reasons, either as punishment for an offense or because the vehicle is a public safety hazard.
Vehicle Code Section 14602.6 governs impounds due to an invalid drivers' license. For purposes of this section, your license is invalid if it was revoked or suspended, or if you were driving without a required Ignition Interlock Device. The officer can impound your vehicle on the spot for 30 days.
The state has to follow precise procedures. In a subsequent post, we'll examine some ways you can get your car back early following a 14602.6 impound.
A far less common impound is under Vehicle Code Section 14602.7: fleeing a police officer. When the officers catch you, and they nearly always do, sooner or later, and if they have a separate warrant, they can impound your car for up to 30 days. You can request a hearing within ten days to determine if the authorities have the proper cause to hold your vehicle, and to determine if any exceptions apply.
The same defenses at a 14602.6 hearing apply for a fleeing impound, for the most part.
Those who have experience with DUI, either first-hand or second-hand, know that there are a lot of hurdles to clear before you can get back on track. Under Vehicle Code Section 14602.8, your vehicle can be impounded on the spot if your BAC was .10 or higher or you refused a chemical test. California is an "implied-consent" state, meaning that when you obtained your drivers' license you consented to a breath or blood test, whether you knew it or not.
The impound period is either five or 15 days. You have the right to demand a hearing. It's always a good idea to request a hearing, so your attorney in Kern County has the chance to preview the prosecutor's case. Besides, you might win the hearing and get your car back early.
The final area is Vehicle Code Section 22651, which are all essentially non-moving violations. Your vehicle can be impounded and towed in Lamont or Shafter if it: