Getting towed is one of the worst experiences for a licensed driver. Losing access to your car can be very inconvenient. If your vehicle is towed and impounded, your priority should be to find out where it is and retrieve it. But this is easier said than done. You need to provide a couple of documents before the towing company can release your vehicle back into your possession. So, can you pick up your vehicle from the tow yard without a license?
What is the process of retrieving your impounded car?
Getting back your impounded car may take longer than you expect, especially if it was seized without your knowledge. Follow the steps below to get back your vehicle:
Locate your vehicle
The first thing to do is find where your vehicle is. If it was towed, chances are your vehicle has been taken to a local tow yard where they keep vehicles for at least 24 hours after being issued a notice. If someone else reported your vehicle as abandoned, it may have been moved from the scene and kept in an impound lot. If you don’t know where it is, the best thing to do would be to contact a local tow company and ask for help locating your towed vehicle.
Call the impound lot where your car is
Once you’ve figured out where your car is, the next step is to call the impound lot and find out if they are willing to release it back to you. This would also be an excellent opportunity to ask what they will require before giving you the car back. Note that this might not be necessary if you’ve been towed before and you already know the process.
Get all the necessary documents
Typically, the tow company will need you to produce official documents that prove you are the vehicle owner. These include:
- Valid driver’s license
- Proof of car ownership
- Proof of car insurance
- Vehicle registration or title
If the title is not in your name, then a notarized letter from all owners living at the same address will be required to authorize release.
Pay the fees
Finally, the last step before your car is released is payment. This will encompass the towing fees, storage fees, and other related services. The tow company should have given you all these details before your vehicle was towed. If you manage to pick up your car within five days, the tow company will typically waive the first 48 hours of storage fees.
Can I pick my car without a license?
If you do not have a valid driver’s license, you may use other alternative documents to prove ownership of the vehicle. For instance, if you have a car loan, they will accept a notarized letter from your bank authorizing the release of the vehicle. If there is no other person with authority to operate for you, you can get back your car if someone with a license and lives at the same address as yours appears in front of them with all required documents. In some states like Colorado, producing the vehicle’s key may pass as proof of ownership. Nevertheless, you’ll need to express accurate information about the car model, color, etc., and other information they deem necessary.
What happens if I cannot pay to get my car back?
Once you’ve completed all these steps and your vehicle is released, don’t forget to ask for a full report of everything that happened. This will be useful, especially if there was any damage done while your car was in the tow yard’s custody. If you cannot settle all the fees, your vehicle will remain impounded until a set payment plan. The company may release it back to you if they have received full payment or a letter of guarantee from a bank willing to cover any costs owed by the vehicle owner.
How long can my car stay impounded?
Typically, the length of time your vehicle can stay impounded depends on how it was towed. If you’ve been reported as an abandoned car and if no one has claimed ownership within 15 days after issuance of a notice, you may lose out to claim it back. Meanwhile, if your car was mistakenly towed by law enforcement or private companies, you’ll need to present proof of ownership and request its release within 24 hours.
Can they sell my car?
After the required time has elapsed, your car will be considered abandoned and might be sold to recover costs. This is usually done seven days after a notice of sale was posted on public property within 200 feet of its location. If you managed to claim possession before this happens but have not paid all fees owed, they can still sell it through a public sale.
How can I avoid getting towed?
Your best bet is to park in a designated parking lot or on private property. You can also get an overnight permit from the city where you live (ensure they don’t tow after it expires) and be vigilant about signs set by your apartment complex. If you’re planning on going out of town for more than five days, it’s best to park your car in a private lot or at home. Finally, if you live in an area with high rates of vehicle thefts and break-ins, it might be advisable not to leave any valuables inside the car when parked anywhere else but on your property.
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