Nevada DUI Laws re Towing Cars & Impoundment
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys

Following a Nevada DUI arrest, the police usually have the driver's vehicle towed. It is then the car owner's responsibility to retrieve the car and pay all costs for towing and storing the car.

In this article our Las Vegas DUI Defense attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions regarding vehicle impoundment in Nevada drunk driving cases. Keep reading to learn when and where cars are towed after a DUI arrest.

1) When someone gets arrested for a DUI in Nevada, what happens to the car?

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When a driver is arrested for DUI in Nevada, the cop typically has the car towed and impounded.

Whenever a Nevada police officer arrests someone for driving under the influence, the officer will typically sanction the driver by getting the vehicle towed.1

Once a car gets towed following a Nevada DUI arrest, the car will then remain in an impound lot until either:

  • the car owner retrieves the vehicle, or else
  • the impound company auctions the car.

2) How can someone avoid getting his/her car towed after a Nevada DUI arrest?

Whether a car gets towed after a Nevada DUI arrest is always up to the discretion of law enforcement. However, the cop may allow any non-intoxicated passengers of the vehicle to drive it away. And if the cop is very understanding, he/she may allow the driver to call someone to come by and drive away the car.

3) Where is a car taken once it is towed after a Nevada DUI arrest?

The vehicles are impounded at one of the nearby lots.2 In Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Metro Police Department utilizes the following three towing and impoundment companies:

  1. Ewing Brothers at 1200 A Street, Las Vegas, NV 89106; (702) 382-9261
  2. Quality Towing at 4100 East Cheyenne, Las Vegas, NV 89115; (702) 649-5711
  3. Fast Towing at 2201 N. Commerce St., Las Vegas, NV 89102; (702) 383-3278

4) How does someone find out where his/her car is impounded in Nevada?

A car owner can call 311 (the non-emergency police number) for information on where his/her car has been impounded. The arresting officer may also have this information.

5) What happens to a car once it is impounded after a Nevada DUI arrest?

The car will be impounded (stored) in a lot until either the owner retrieves it or it is auctioned off. Cars will not be released from the impound yard to the owner unless all fees are paid.

6) Can a driver choose where his/her car gets towed in Nevada?

Sometimes. The driver can tell the arresting officer which towing company and impoundment lot he/she prefers, and the officer may comply. In some Nevada DUI cases however, the driver may be too intoxicated or injured to give the officer instructions. In those cases, the police officer chooses where the vehicle is towed.

7) How much does it cost to retrieve a car from an impound lot in Nevada?

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Impoundment companies typically charge $30 a day to store a vehicle.

It depends on the specific towing company and location. Average impoundment and storage costs are $30 a day plus towing fees. Depending on the case, the owner may also have to pay:

  • auction-preparation fees,
  • extra-man fees,
  • light-duty fees,
  • lot-visit fees,
  • yard clean-up fees,
  • lien fees, and/or
  • administrative fees

Car owners are encouraged to call the impoundment company before going there to find out their hours of operation and what forms of payment they accept. The three companies mentioned above in question 3 all accept cash and credit cards.

8) What happens if a car owner never retrieves an impounded car in Nevada?

If the owner never picks up an impounded car, the impound company will auction it off. And if the money from the auction is less than the total impound fees that the car had been accruing, the impound company may sue the owner for the difference. Henderson criminal defense attorney Michael Becker illustrates this with an example:

Example: John gets arrested in Henderson for the Nevada crime of felony DUI after a drunken car accident. The police impound his car at Imperial Impounds, and John elects not to retrieve the car because he could never afford to repair it. Imperial Impounds stores the car for 20 days at $30 a day, for a total bill of $600. At auction the car brings in $300, which is half the $600 total impound fees that have been accruing since the car was towed in. Imperial Impounds may now sue John for the $300 difference.

Therefore, impound lots are not places where car owners can abandon their vehicles consequence-free. If the impound companies lose money on the vehicle at auction, they may go after the owner in order to break even.

9) Can car insurance cover towing and impoundment fees in Nevada?

Usually car insurance does not cover the costs of impoundment, though it may cover towing. Car owners should call their insurance companies to check the details of their policies.

10) Can anyone retrieve a car from an impound lot in Nevada?

No, only the registered owner with proof of legal title can retrieve a car from a Nevada impound lot. It does not matter if the owner is not the primary driver of the car. Owners should call the impound company before showing up to see which types of proof of title the company accepts. Usually the actual title or registration papers are sufficient, along with a photo ID.

11) How long can a car remain impounded in Nevada?

Impound companies typically store cars for 7 to 30 days before auctioning them. But they may store the car longer if the owner calls the company and makes arrangements to pick it up at a later date. Note that if a car is impounded for too long, the accrued daily fees may soon exceed the value of the car.

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Call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).

Arrested for DUI? Call an attorney...

If you are facing drunk driving charges in Nevada, speak to our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers for free at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). We may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed. Otherwise, we are prepared to fight for your innocence at trial.

Legal References

1NRS 484B.443 Police officer authorized to remove certain vehicles; protocol for selection and use of towing services; duties and liability of tow car operator.

1. Whenever any police officer finds a vehicle standing upon a highway in violation of any of the provisions of chapters 484A to 484E, inclusive, of NRS, the officer may move the vehicle, or require the driver or person in charge of the vehicle to move it, to a position off the paved, improved or main-traveled part of the highway.

2. Whenever any police officer finds a vehicle unattended or disabled upon any highway, bridge or causeway, or in any tunnel, where the vehicle constitutes an obstruction to traffic or interferes with the normal flow of traffic, the officer may provide for the immediate removal of the vehicle.

3. Any police officer may, subject to the requirements of subsection 4, remove any vehicle or part of a vehicle found on the highway, or cause it to be removed, to a garage or other place of safekeeping if:

(a) The vehicle has been involved in an accident and is so disabled that its normal operation is impossible or impractical and the person or persons in charge of the vehicle are incapacitated by reason of physical injury or other reason to such an extent as to be unable to provide for its removal or custody, or are not in the immediate vicinity of the disabled vehicle;

(b) The person driving or in actual physical control of the vehicle is arrested for any alleged offense for which the officer is required by law to take the person arrested before a proper magistrate without unnecessary delay; or

(c) The person in charge of the vehicle is unable to provide for its custody or removal within:

(1) Twenty-four hours after abandoning the vehicle on any freeway, United States highway or other primary arterial highway.

(2) Seventy-two hours after abandoning the vehicle on any other highway.

4. Unless a different course of action is necessary to preserve evidence of a criminal offense, a police officer who wishes to have a vehicle or part of a vehicle removed from a highway pursuant to subsection 3 shall, in accordance with any applicable protocol such as a rotational schedule regarding the selection and use of towing services, cause the vehicle or part of a vehicle to be removed by a tow car operator. The tow car operator shall, to the extent practicable and using the shortest and most direct route, remove the vehicle or part of a vehicle to the garage of the tow car operator unless directed otherwise by the police officer. The tow car operator is liable for any loss of or damage to the vehicle or its contents that occurs while the vehicle is in the possession or control of the tow car operator.

2 Joe Schoenmann, Towing policy to remain as is, Clark County commissioners decide, Las Vegas Review-Journal, May 1, 2012.

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