Exactly what happens to a person’s car if they are arrested and charged with a DUI depends on where the arrest occurred and where the car is. It is often up to the discretion of the arresting officer as well. The officer may call a company that has a contract with the county to tow the car to an impound lot. It will be there until it is retrieved and, if it cannot be retrieved within a certain amount of time, then it can be auctioned off. It will not be considered to be auctioned off until at least six months or so.
In any other case, if the vehicle can easily be moved to a close or legal parking spot, the officers will leave it there. Sometimes, the person is allowed to make a phone call to a family member or friend who can come and retrieve the car. The vehicle can also be retrieved by the arrested person once they are released from custody and able to drive it safely.
Read below to learn more about what happens to the car after a Maryland DUI. Also, if you have any questions, reach out to an experienced DUI lawyer.
Generally, the defendant’s lawyer will not have any role in helping a person retrieve their car because a family member or a friend can just pick up the car from where it is parked. If the car has been impounded, then a seasoned lawyer can help to provide documentation to identify that the arrested person is the owner of the car and they are entitled to retrieve it.
The individual needs to bring identification to the tow lot to give them the authority to get their car. Usually, those documents are inside the vehicle, which can make the process difficult.
If the car is impounded, the car will be searched pursuant police policy. When police take custody of a vehicle, it needs to be searched for a couple of different reasons. One is to provide an inventory of all the property that is in the vehicle. This is to protect both the driver or the vehicle owner and also the law enforcement agency to ensure that all of the person’s property is accounted for. This is typically called an “impound inventory.”
The second reason for conducting that search is that law enforcement wants to ensure that there is no contraband or other illegal materials that are in the vehicle. The law gives them the right upon the seizure of the vehicle to search the vehicle.
If the officer who searched the car found any illegal substances inside of it, a DUI case can be affected in several ways. Certainly, if the person is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and then an illegal substance or drug paraphernalia was found in the vehicle, those items can be used as circumstantial evidence to support the state’s allegations of impaired driving.
It is not conclusive, but certainly the presence of an item is evidence of the substance used. Also, if there are illegal materials found in the vehicle, the person could be charged with possession of said illegal materials. It certainly provides the grounds for an additional criminal charge, which can be attached to the DUI charge, and the person will have additional criminal charges in addition to the DUI citation.
When a person’s vehicle has been impounded after a DUI arrest, a lawyer can reach out to a law enforcement agency or impound lots to ensure that the vehicle has been properly impounded and processed. They will ensure that an impound inventory was conducted. An attorney can ensure that that inventory is accurate and all of the individual’s possessions are accounted for. If there are any discrepancies, they can raise those concerns with the law enforcement agency.
The earlier those concerns are raised and documented, the better for the person in terms of attempting to retrieve those items or get compensation for them. The lawyer will help the individual organize their documents to ensure that they have all the relevant materials to get the vehicle, and they could also just help provide information to the person to help them navigate the process of retrieving their vehicle.
Call today to learn more about what happens to the car after a Maryland DUI and how an attorney could help your situation.
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