A line of cars behind fence from being impounded after a dui arrest

Following a DUI arrest in Utah, officers have the authority to impound a suspect’s vehicle. The process to have your vehicle released if your car was impounded after a DUI arrest is complicated and requires the payment of multiple fees, so it’s important to know all of the necessary steps before you begin the process. You don’t want to waste time waiting in long lines at the Driver License Division or impound lot only to find out you don’t have the paperwork or money to get your vehicle back. 

Steps to Get Back Your Car If Impounded After a DUI

If your car was impounded after a DUI arrest, these steps will help. By completing the necessary paperwork and paying fees, you can get your vehicle out of the impound lot.

Step 1: Prove Ownership

The first step in getting your vehicle released from an impound lot following a DUI arrest is going to the Driver License Division Vehicle Registration Office. There are several locations throughout Utah. At the office, you will need to provide legal picture identification and documentation of ownership of the vehicle. This can include a title for the vehicle, the registration, or other documents showing ownership. In any case, you must be able to prove that you, in fact, are the legal, registered owner. 

Step 2: Provide the Vehicle Impound Report

The next step at the Driver License Division is to provide a copy of the TC-540, known as the Vehicle Impound Report. This document is provided by the arresting officer. To release a car impounded after a DUI, the vehicle must be properly registered. If the vehicle is not registered, which is shown on the Vehicle Impound Report, the vehicle must be registered and all taxes and fees must be paid before the release is allowed. 

Step 3: Pay the DUI Impound Fee

You will also need to pay a DUI impound fee to the Driver License Division to secure the release of your vehicle from the impound lot. The DUI impound fee is $400 and is due even if the owner of the vehicle was not the intoxicated driver. The administrative fee is due for off-highway vehicles and watercrafts as well. 

Once you have provided proof of ownership, the Vehicle Impound Report, and paid the DUI impound fee (along with any other fees) you will obtain a release authorization from the Driver License Division in the form of an Impound Release Form. Once this letter of release has been given, if the vehicle is not claimed within 30 days, legal procedures will be initiated to sell the vehicle.

Who Can Retrieve an Impounded Vehicle?

If you are not the registered owner of the vehicle, you must provide a letter of permission from the registered owner granting you permission to release the vehicle. This letter of permission must be submitted at the Driver License Division before the authorized agent can obtain the release form. Impounded vehicles can only be released to:

  • The registered owner
  • Person representing the registered owner- must provide a letter of permission
  • Registered lienholder- must provide a copy of title or security agreement that shows lien, along with verification indicating that they are an employee of the lienholder
  • Leasing companies- must provide letter of verification 
  • Dealers- must provide evidence of ownership along with proof that they represent that dealership

A line of cars behind fence from being impounded after a dui arrest

Step 4: Provide Release Authorization to Impound Lot 

After you have retrieved the Impound Release Form from the Driver License Division, you must take this authorization to the impound lot where your car was towed. Without this form, you will not be able to get back your car that was impounded after a DUI. 

Step 5: Pay Towing and Storage Fees

Along with providing the Impound Release Form, you must also pay any additional towing and storage fees that have accumulated at the impound lot. These fees will vary depending on the lot and time spent impounded. It is recommended to know the amount you will need to pay before going to the impound lot to ensure that you have the money to cover the payment. Call the impound lot ahead of time to ensure that you have all of the documentation you need, along with the amount of money due. After you have provided the release authorization and paid the remaining fees, your vehicle will be released from the impound lot. 

Refund of DUI Impound Fee

Under Utah law, a DUI impound fee must be collected by the Division of Motor Vehicles before a letter of release is given for any vehicle that is impounded during a DUI arrest. In order to obtain a refund for the fee, the vehicle owner must provide evidence or documentation for one of the following situations:

  1. Proof of duplicate payment
  2. The owner filed a bona fide stolen vehicle report with a police agency and submits a copy of the police report with the refund request within 30 days of the date of the impound.
  3. The owner submits a letter from the Driver License Division stating that the operator’s driver license will not be revoked or suspended as a result of this incident. The refund request must be submitted within 30 days of the date of the Driver License Division letter.

Attach the required documentation to the Form TC-542, Request for Refund of DUI Administrative Impound Fee, and mail to:

Utah State Tax Commission

Attn: Driver License Division Accounting

PO Box 30412

Salt Lake City, UT 84130

Once this documentation has been submitted, the Driver License Division will review the refund request. If approved, the Division will issue a refund check for the amount of the DUI impound fee. If the refund is denied, a letter explaining the reason for denial will be issued. 

Experienced DUI Defense Attorneys

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DUI, it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side. Along with having your vehicle impounded, there are many other consequences with a DUI arrest. At Schatz, Anderson & Associates, we focus heavily on the defense of those charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses of DUI. Learn more about how our DUI Defense Attorneys in Utah can help you today. 

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