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What to do When Your Car is Towed After a DUI

Your car is towed in Cincinnati after a DUI. What do you do next?

If you are facing a DUI charge, you probably already know that you’re facing fines, alcohol rehabilitation treatment, possible jail time, and probation. However, the DUI attorneys at The Farrish Law Firm, L.P.A., have noticed that many clients don’t realize that their cars can be impounded because of a DUI/OVI charge as well.

In the state of Ohio, it is legal for police officers to impound your car when you are arrested for DUI/OVI, even if it is your first time being charged with this crime.

If you’ve been charged with your first DUI offense… Or if your last DUI/OVI charge occurred more than six years before, it is legal for law enforcement officials to tow your vehicle, although you do have the right to retrieve your vehicle after it has been towed.

If you are convicted for your second DUI/OVI offense in the past six years… Your license plates could be impounded for a period of at least one year. If you are allowed to retrieve your car—and some courts might not let you—you still won’t be able to drive it legally for 90 days because it is subject to a 90-day impoundment.

If you are convicted for your third (or more) DUI/OVI offense in the past six years… Your vehicle will be legally forfeited to the state of Ohio.

If you’ve been involved in a DUI case in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area and your car was towed and impounded, here’s what you need to know.

Common Questions About Impounded Vehicles in Cincinnati:

(Note: The following information has been taken directly from the City of Cincinnati’s website.)

How do I know that my car has been impounded?

If a car is impounded, Cincinnati legislation states that the owner of the vehicle must be notified in person, via phone, or via letter (sent to the last known address of the registered owner). If the impounding police officers are unable to notify the owner before the vehicle has been impounded, the Impound Unit personnel will be responsible for contacting the owner.

Where do I pick up my car?

The impound lot in Cincinnati is located at 3425 Spring Grove Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45225. Hours of operation are:

  • Monday through Friday: 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday: 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Holidays: Open according to hours above, except December 25 (Christmas Day) — Closed

What is the cost of getting my car out of the impound lot?

There are a few basic charges of getting your car towed and impounded in Cincinnati:

  • Towing: $150
  • Storage: $25 per day
  • Processing fee: $25
  • Extended storage: $75 (if the car is not retrieved after five days)

You might also encounter additional fees, such as extra towing time or an inspection fee, if they are necessary.

What documentation will I need to get my car back?

You will need a few different documents in order to retrieve your car after it has been impounded:

  • Proof of ownership of the vehicle (such as your vehicle registration form or vehicle title)
  • Photo ID
  • Payment—either cash or credit card (checks are not accepted at the Cincinnati impound lot)
  • Valid registered license plate and stickers already on the vehicle (if a vehicle does not have one or both of these requirements, it can only be towed from the lot)
  • Proof of a vehicle release order from the court for ALS impounds; proof of civil bond payment for CMC 759 impounds, or proof of payment for delinquent traffic citations

If your car has been impounded because of DUI but you happen to have outstanding traffic tickets, you’ll need to get these taken care of before you can retrieve your car. These tickets can be paid at the Hamilton County Clerk’s office.

How long do I have to claim my vehicle or to dispute the impound?

According to the Cincinnati Municipal Code 513-5(7), “Failure to obtain release of the motor vehicle within 20 days after impoundment may cause it to be sold at public auction if unclaimed.”

Public auctions at the Cincinnati impound lot are held on the first and third Saturday of each month, on the lot, at 10 a.m. You are allowed to retrieve personal items from inside your vehicle if you are unable to pay the necessary fees before it is put up for auction, but you are not allowed to remove any electronics or individual vehicle parts from your car.

What You Should Do After Your Car Has Been Impounded:

It might surprise you, but many police officers aren’t actually familiar with the towing and impounding laws in their city. Many police agencies have contracts with private impound lots and it can be even more difficult to retrieve your vehicle if it has been taken to a private lot.

First, it is important that you request the release of your vehicle even if it was towed for a legal reason (such as a DUI). If you don’t ask for the release, the police can say that you have abandoned your vehicle. Remember: towing your vehicle is not the same thing as holding your vehicle.

For a DUI/OVI charge, you may need to get an order from the court for a release. Courts generally do not try to keep an impounded vehicle if the owner is able to pay the necessary fees, because the police agency responsible for impounding the vehicle may have to pay storage fees if you are not convicted of your DUI/OVI charge.

At The Farrish Law Firm, L.P.A., we believe that it’s important for local drivers to understand local DUI/OVI laws. If you have been charged with DUI/OVI, our experienced DUI attorneys can help you avoid losing your vehicle permanently. Contact our office today at 513-403-9699 to schedule a free consultation.