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Is There a Chance Your Car Will Be Impounded Following an Arrest for DUI?

Interviewer: When someone’s arrested for DUI, how often is their car towed and impounded?

If an Individual Has a High Blood Alcohol Content, Their Car May Be Impounded for 30 Days

Brian Sloan: It depends on what city someone’s arrested in. There’s certain cities that the officers have mandate that if they test an individual, using the portable breath test, which is not considered reliable enough to use against to trial; but if it shows an extreme DUI limit, such as having a blood alcohol level at/or above a point 15, the person’s vehicle will be towed and held in impound for 30 days.

Currently, if Your Car Is Picked Up by a Spouse, because You Were Convicted of DUI, You May Not Drive It for a Year

There are some exceptions, but there’s a change of law coming in September. The exceptions to the rule right now is that it is possible to get your vehicle out of the tow yard if there is someone else’s name on the title or if the person’s spouse can go down to the tow yard and say that they want to get it out.

The downfall to that now is that if someone were to have their spouse go down and get the car out early, that’s fantastic. They can save on the fees associated with impounding the vehicle, but the person that gets the vehicle out will have to sign up on a contract saying that the spouse that was arrested cannot operate that vehicle for a year.

That’s quite substantial considering that very likely, if someone is even convicted of a DUI, if it’s their first offense, they’re only going to have their license suspended for 90 days. Yet, to get the vehicle out of impound early, they have to sign up on the contract prohibiting access to that vehicle for a year. In my opinion, it really doesn’t make sense.

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Any Person Who Drives the Vehicle That Has Been Convicted of DUI Can Face Civil Charges

Interviewer: It also can bring liability on the spouse. What if the spouse was arrested and does drive the vehicle, and they get in trouble. Will the spouse that signed the agreement now be liable either civilly or criminally?

Brian Sloan: Technically yes. It is a civil offense to allow someone under that contract that is signed by the spouse who was arrested or any other person that is not allowed to be driving or has been convicted of a DUI, to drive that vehicle. They can set themselves up for a civil violation.

The New Law Will Require That a Person Have an Interest in the Vehicle in Order to get it out of Impound

Interviewer: What’s going to happen in September? What’s going to be the change?

Brian Sloan: I believe the new legislation goes into effect on September 13th. The new law will stipulate that a person must have an interest in the vehicle at the time of arrest to be able to get a vehicle out of impound early.

As of right now, because the law has not yet gone into effect, technically, if you are unmarried and if you are the only person on the name of your title or the only person on the title, you can technically get your friend to have their name added to the title, and then have your he or she go down and get the vehicle out of impound.

I think too many people are doing that, and so the legislator changed the law and said, “You can’t add your friend to the title after the arrest in order to try to get the vehicle out of impound early.” That you have to have an interest in the vehicle at the time of the arrest in order to remove the vehicle from the impound yard early.

Tempe and Scottsdale are among the Cities in Arizona Who Mandate the Impound Law

Interviewer: Do you know what cities do this and what cities don’t?

Brian Sloan: Tempe is known for impounding a vehicle if the portable breath test registers above extreme limits. I believe Scottsdale is known for this as well. In other cities, it’s usually up to the officer. Some officers will be nice and allow someone to park their car and leave it parked until it can be picked up.

In Some Instances, It Is Up to the Discretion of the Arresting Officer Whether Your Car Will Be Impounded

Some officers will actually move a person’s vehicle into a parking lot and let it sit there if the person pulled around the side of a road. Some officers will just impound the vehicle because they feel like it and because there is no one else present at the time to take the vehicle.

Impound and Blood Alcohol Levels: The Portable Breathalyzer Is Not Considered Accurate Enough to Be Used as Evidence at Your Trial but Will Determine if Your Car Will Be Impounded

That doesn’t mean it necessarily will be subject to the 30-day impound. The deciding factor seems to be if there’s evidence that the individual has a blood alcohol level at or above a point 15.

Unfortunately, that is often based on portable breath test results, which are not considered reliable now to use against a person in trial, and can be quite different from the actual blood test results that can be used against a person at a trial.

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Following a DUI Conviction, Arizona Requires the Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device on any Vehicle the Defendant Operates

Interviewer: How often do you see that ignition interlocks are required as a condition of getting your license back or as a condition of probation if you have been convicted of a DUI?

The Ignition Interlock Device May Be Required for 12 to 30 Months

Brian Sloan: Anyone convicted of any DUI has to install an ignition interlock device, with one caveat. You’re going to be required to have an ignition interlock device placed on any vehicle they operate, depending on what the conviction is for, anywhere from one year up, I think to, technically two years and nine months.

If You Have No Infractions and Abide by the Terms of the Interlock Device, You May Only Have to Use the Device for 6 Months

If someone were to be convicted of first time regular alcohol DUI, they’re required to have an ignition interlock device on any vehicle they operate for one year. However, if they do not test for alcohol consumption for the first six months, then they can have the last six months deleted.

If You Are Not Sentenced to Install the Ignition Interlock Device, Your Driver’s License May Be Suspended for One Year

If the person is convicted of a drug DUI, in that they had any drug or metabolite in their system while driving or in actual physical control of the vehicle, but was not convicted of being impaired to the slightest degree for the following two reasons: Either because they went to trial and proved to the jury that they were not impaired; or because they entered into a pre-agreement where count one is being impaired to the slightest degree by using drug was dismissed; and if the judge is willing to state that the person does not need alcohol treatment or counseling, then it’s possible not to have an ignition interlock device at all. However, that person would end up having a license revoked for one year.

Enhanced DUI Charges Carry More Severe Penalties

If someone is convicted of a super extreme DUI, they are required to have an ignition interlock device for 18 months. If a person is convicted of an aggravated DUI, specifically a Class 4 Aggravated DUI, they are required to have an ignition interlock device for two years after a one-year license revocation.

If a person is convicted of a Class 6 Aggravated DUI, being that they were driving under the influence in that they had at least one child under the age of 15 at the vehicle, I believe it is still possible for them to get an ignition interlock device license for two years and nine months.

By Brian Douglas Sloan

Get your questions answered - Call Me to schedule your One Hour Free 'In Depth' Consultation 480-900-0384, 602-900-0384, 623-900-0384

Why Brian Douglas Sloan?
AZ DUI Defense Lawyer Brian Douglas Sloan
  • 13+ Years SOLELY Focused on DUI Defense
  • Represented 2,600+ DUI Clients
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  • Top One Percent in the Nation"
    National Association of Distinguished Counsel
  • “Top 10 DUI Lawyers in Arizona”
    National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys
  • “10 Best Client Satisfaction Award”
    American Institute of DUI/DWI Attorneys
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