Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Mar 20, 2022

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Just the Basics

  • You need your VIN and license plate number to search for your vehicle
  • Bring your driver’s license, proof of insurance, vehicle title, and registration to get your car out of impound
  • On average, it can cost between $100 and $1,000 to get a vehicle out of impound

You need your driver’s license and proof of insurance to get your car out of impound. If the police impounded your vehicle, check your citation for the towing company’s name. You can call the towing company to find out where your vehicle is and how much it costs to get back. 

Fees and fines for getting a car out of impound will vary by state, but it can cost you between $100 and $1,000 to recover your vehicle. This guide breaks down all of the fees associated with recovering a towed vehicle, including towing and storage fees. You’ll be responsible for paying all of these fees to release your vehicle. 

There are some instances when you will not be able to get your vehicle out of impound right away, including when your car is evidence in a crime. Keep reading this guide to learn how to get a car out of impound after being towed and what to do if the police impound your car for driving without insurance.

How can I get my car out of impound?

If you’re trying to figure out how to get your car out of impound, the first step is finding out where it is. Your vehicle could have been taken by any local towing agency, depending on the reason for the tow. For example, if you were towed for illegal parking, look for signs detailing where impounded vehicles go. If there is no signage, and you don’t know why your vehicle was towed, call the police station.

To get a car out of impound, call the non-emergency police number. Then, speak with a clerk and ask if the police impounded your vehicle. You will need to give the clerk your VIN and license plate number to locate your vehicle.

The county clerk may connect you with the local parking authority to get that information. Once you know which impound lot to call, contact them and confirm your vehicle is there and what you need to recover it. Come prepared to pay $100, $1,000, or more.

It can often take 24 hours or more for paperwork to process, especially if the police towed your vehicle late at night. If the police or the parking authority can’t locate your car right away, wait a few hours and call back later. Don’t report your vehicle as stolen until you know it’s not in an impound lot.

What do I need to get my car out of impound?

To get a vehicle out of impound, you need the following documents:

  • Proof of insurance
  • Driver’s license
  • Vehicle title
  • Vehicle registration

If you lease a vehicle or have a car loan, the impound will accept your vehicle registration or lease agreement. You can also present the rental agreement if you are on vacation or have a short-term rental.

If the police arrested you when they impounded your vehicle, you might need to request a hearing and obtain a notarized power of attorney to get your car out of impound.

How much does it cost to get a car out of impound?

The cost to recover a towed vehicle varies by state, mileage, and why the vehicle was towed. The type of vehicle you own also impacts how much you pay to get your car out of impound.

In general, the fees you pay to recover your vehicle are:

  • $250+ for towing
  • $75+ for impound
  • $100+ per day for storage
  • $20+ per day for release

Often, there are multiple towing fees, such as a mileage fee for certain distances and a flatbed fee if your vehicle is undrivable. Impound lots can also charge extra for larger vehicles, and release and storage fees vary by company and state.

For example, Hawaii state laws limit towing fees to $65, while some city laws in California limit vehicle-release fees to $130. Before heading to the impound lot to recover your car, research your state laws to determine how much it will cost you.

What happens if your vehicle is stolen and impounded? Unfortunately, impound fees are the owner’s responsibility. The good news is that you can file those fees as part of your claim if you have comprehensive car insurance coverage to insure against auto theft.

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Why did my car get impounded?

Vehicles get towed and impounded for several reasons. Illegal parking is one of the most common reasons cars get towed, but driving without insurance can also get your car impounded. 

Currently, 22 states have towing and impound laws that dictate when a car can be towed, seized, and impounded. Reasons why cars get impounded include:

  • Driving with a license
  • Driving without insurance
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Refusing to take a sobriety test

If the police impound your vehicle for any of the reasons above, you will not be able to recover your vehicle right away. Some state laws require drivers to wait between 30 and 90 days before getting their cars out of impound. 

Impound lots charge daily storage fees, which are listed above. If your vehicle remains in impound for 30 days or more, and you cannot pay the fees, the impound lot may auction off your vehicle.

Will my insurance rates go up because my car was impounded?

The act of impounding your vehicle will not raise your car insurance rates, but the reason your car got impounded can raise your rates.

For example, parking illegally is a minor traffic violation and will not raise your rates, even if your vehicle gets towed. However, if the police impound your vehicle after reckless driving or driving under the influence, your insurance rates will skyrocket. Take a look at the table below to see how car insurance rates vary by driving record:

Average Annual Car Insurance Rates by Driving History

CompanyClean Record1 Accident1 DUI1 Speeding Violation
American Family$2,693.61$3,722.75$4,330.24$3,025.74
Liberty Mutual$4,774.30$6,204.78$7,613.48$5,701.26
State Farm$2,821.18$3,396.01$3,636.80$3,186.01
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One speeding violation can raise your rates by $500 a year with most companies, but a DUI will double your rates with every insurer. If you’re facing car insurance quotes like these, we recommend comparing car insurance by company to find the cheapest quotes.

How to Get a Vehicle Out of Impound: The Bottom Line

No matter the reason why the police impound your vehicle, you must have the following to get it back:

  • VIN and license plate number
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of ownership via title, registration, or rental agreement

You cannot get your car out of impound without these documents. Your state may require further proof, so confirm what you need with the impound company before picking up your car.

If the police impound your vehicle for driving without insurance, you can’t get it back until you buy new car insurance. Rates can get expensive when you start a new policy, so shop around with at least three different car insurance companies before you buy coverage.