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  1. #1

    Question Vehicle Impounded for Driving on Expired License

    My question involves towing laws for the State of: California.

    While I was out of state my California drivers license expired. Upon returning to California, I was driving a friends car that I had borrowed, when I was pulled over. The car was towed and impounded for 30 days.

    How can the car be impounded for 30 days when it did not belong to me?

    I borrowed the car and my friend was unaware (as was I) that my licence had expired.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Vehicle Impounded for Driving on Expired License

    Quote Quoting amountainclimber
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    My question involves towing laws for the State of: California.

    While I was out of state my California drivers license expired. Upon returning to California, I was driving a friends car that I had borrowed, when I was pulled over. The car was towed and impounded for 30 days.

    How can the car be impounded for 30 days when it did not belong to me?

    I borrowed the car and my friend was unaware (as was I) that my licence had expired.
    If it was towed for thirty days, and your California license was only EXPIRED (and not suspended or revoked), then your friend - the owner of the car - needs to schedule an impound hearing immediately and ask for a review of the facts. If what you say is true, they will have to release the vehicle prior to the thirty days. A thirty day impound for no license can only be done when the driver has NEVER been licensed or has a suspended or revoked license.

    Could your license have been suspended at some point?

    Note that when you drive unlicensed ANY car you drive can be impounded, and under the aforementioned circumstances, it COULD be impounded for up to 30 days.
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

  3. #3

    Default Re: Vehicle Impounded for Driving on Expired License

    If my licence was suspended that would be news to me.

    Are you saying that the law provides for punishment of a person (the legal owner of the car), by impounding their property for 30 days, even if that person (the legal owner) violated no law?

    In reading the law, it states:

    14602.6.(d) (1) An impounding agency shall release a vehicle to the registered owner or his or her agent PRIOR to the end of 30 days’ impoundment under any of the following circumstances:
    (E) When the driver reinstates his or her driver’s license or acquires a driver’s license and proper insurance.

    The law clearly states that, if the offending driver gets their license reinstated, and the driver is insured, the car should be released prior to the 30 day period.

    So, the ability of the owner to recover their car prior to the 30 day period, depends on the offending DRIVER getting their license reinstated????

    The officer who impounded the car was emphatic that under no circumstances could the car be claimed prior to the 30 day period.

    When I questioned him about due process, asking directly if their was some sort of impound hearing, he again stated emphatically that there was no way the car could be returned to the owner prior to the 30 day impound period.

    Am I missing something? There was no arrest, there was no alcohol or drug related offense. Is their some circumstance that would prevent the legal and registered owner, if they were not in or driving the car at the time it was impounded, from reacquiring their car (assuming all towing and storage fees were paid).

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Vehicle Impounded for Driving on Expired License

    Quote Quoting amountainclimber
    View Post
    If my licence was suspended that would be news to me.

    Are you saying that the law provides for punishment of a person (the legal owner of the car), by impounding their property for 30 days, even if that person (the legal owner) violated no law?

    In reading the law, it states:

    14602.6.(d) (1) An impounding agency shall release a vehicle to the registered owner or his or her agent PRIOR to the end of 30 days’ impoundment under any of the following circumstances:
    (E) When the driver reinstates his or her driver’s license or acquires a driver’s license and proper insurance.

    The law clearly states that, if the offending driver gets their license reinstated, and the driver is insured, the car should be released prior to the 30 day period.

    So, the ability of the owner to recover their car prior to the 30 day period, depends on the offending DRIVER getting their license reinstated????
    Yes.

    But, if they cannot show that the driver's license was suspended, then it cannot be held for 30 days and would have to be released.

    So, like I said, have the owner of the car make an appointment for a hearing, They have to provide it within 48 hours. If they have proof of the suspension, bad for you - and potentially bad for your friend.

    The agency can also release it early out of the goodness of their heart. If they are satisfied that the owner made reasonable inquiry as to your driver's status as the law requires, they can release it.

    Quote Quoting amountainclimber
    View Post
    The officer who impounded the car was emphatic that under no circumstances could the car be claimed prior to the 30 day period.
    The impounding officer is not the hearing officer ... at least, it is not likely.

    When I questioned him about due process, asking directly if their was some sort of impound hearing, he again stated emphatically that there was no way the car could be returned to the owner prior to the 30 day impound period.
    He was wrong. The owner can ask for a hearing even if there is no way to get the car back early.

    Am I missing something? There was no arrest, there was no alcohol or drug related offense. Is their some circumstance that would prevent the legal and registered owner, if they were not in or driving the car at the time it was impounded, from reacquiring their car (assuming all towing and storage fees were paid).
    Provided you are correct and your license was NOT suspended or revoked, then the owner should be able to get his car back.

    Are you behind in child support payments or some such thing? Did you miss a court date or fail to pay a traffic ticket? Is it possible your license could have been suspended without your knowledge? The officer will have relied on the information he received from dispatch. However, it is possible that the officer is poorly trained and made the assumption that any unlicensed driver - expired or otherwise - could lose the car for 30 days. I have seen officers have that opinion before and it is because they are not well versed in 14602.6 or the related laws to impounds and hearings.
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

  5. #5

    Default Re: Vehicle Impounded for Driving on Expired License

    I have no child support issues, but I did do a bankruptcy last year. I will go in to the DMV today and see if there is something. I questioned the officer carefully about the distinction between suspended and expired and he was of the opinion that they were the same. Clearly I need to get more in the way of facts. I guess the single thing which I find the most amazing is that somebody else would end up getting punished for something that I did. The understandable intent of the law is to deny me my car as punishment for driving it without having a license, which is easy to understand and justify.

    In terms of impounding somebody else's property, it would appear that there is an assumption of guilt, and that the owner must prove their innocence, without the benefit of the hearing being in a court of law.

    I really need to thank you for your help in understanding this situation.

    In this somewhat frustrating attempt to understand the law, I am reminded that in the foreign travels I have done, in many cases the criminal justice system consisted of a guy in a Raiders sweat shirt with an AK47.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Vehicle Impounded for Driving on Expired License

    Th California Vehicle Code imposes on the owners of vehicles a legal requirement that they make a reasonable effort to ascertain the driving status of the person to which they loan their car. The reason for this is likely because to do otherwise sort of sidesteps the law. It used to be that all you had to do was borrow a friend's car and promise to pay their impound fee if you get caught. There was no incentive to prevent unlicensed drivers from hitting the road in borrowed cars. No more. Now, the owner must explain what happened if he wants to get his car back. Usually we hear, "Well, I didn't ask." In theory, the owner is then guilty of a misdemeanor. Very often, the lender knows or suspects the person is unlicensed.

    But, even if you think about it as property and not specifically as a motor vehicle, a similar review would have to take place. If an arrestee gets stuck with a phone that you say is yours, you may have to show that it is yours before it released.
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

  7. #7

    Default Re: Vehicle Impounded for Driving on Expired License

    Aaagggghhh!!

    We have gone to the Torrance CHP office twice to request a hearing, but on both occasions the leutenant that we were supposed to speak to, to request a hearing, was not in the office because of the holidays. Now, because it has been 10 days since the car was impounded, we are told we can't request a hearing.

    The tow yard, which has the car, has sent us a notice of an impending lein sale, because the storage bill has not been paid. We have yet to receive any kind of storage billing for the car or any kind of "impount storage notification."

    My understanding of the law, is that the tow yard is required to send us a notification that the car has been stored and what the rate is. If that is not done, the maximum they can charge is for 10 days of storage.

    Do we need to get a lawyer?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Vehicle Impounded for Driving on Expired License

    Quote Quoting amountainclimber
    View Post
    Aaagggghhh!!

    We have gone to the Torrance CHP office twice to request a hearing, but on both occasions the leutenant that we were supposed to speak to, to request a hearing, was not in the office because of the holidays. Now, because it has been 10 days since the car was impounded, we are told we can't request a hearing.
    If you requested a hearing be scheduled they are REQUIRED to provide it within 48 hours ...

    CVC 22852(c) ...

    (c) The poststorage hearing shall be conducted within 48 hours of
    the request
    , excluding weekends and holidays. The public agency may
    authorize its own officer or employee to conduct the hearing if the
    hearing officer is not the same person who directed the storage of
    the vehicle.

    You should go back and demand the hearing. if you can show that you did come in to request the hearing within 10 days they cannot legally deny you the hearing. if they do, bad for them as their liability is just getting greater and greater.
    The tow yard, which has the car, has sent us a notice of an impending lein sale, because the storage bill has not been paid. We have yet to receive any kind of storage billing for the car or any kind of "impount storage notification."
    This is par for the course. The tow company will send a notice of pending lien sale soon after the tow ... I'm not going to look it up right now, but I believe the law says that no fees can be assessed for this until 15 days have passed (or something like that). But, that's not related to the impound storage hearing and if you did NOT have a suspended license, they shouyld never have conducted a 30 day impound.

    My understanding of the law, is that the tow yard is required to send us a notification that the car has been stored and what the rate is. If that is not done, the maximum they can charge is for 10 days of storage.
    The agency must send notification within 10 days unless notice of the impound was made in person ... which, apparently it was. I am not aware of any legal requirement by the tow company to make further notification within 10 days.

    Do we need to get a lawyer?
    It would be a small claims matter unless you lose the car and the value of the car is over $7,500. Obtaining an attorney might be too cost prohibitive.

    http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp...s/scbasics.htm

    The agency is playing you. Unfortunately, if you went to see Lieutenant X and he was not there, you may have lost out if you did not request or demand an impound hearing.
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Vehicle Impounded for Driving on Expired License

    Had a similar problem myself. Police agency failed to grant a hearing upon request. I ended up paying the necessary fees to obtain my vehicle and then filed suit against the agency for violation of the vehicle code regarding impoundments and hearings as well as a civil rights complaint under federal section 1983. The City ended up paying all fees and then some. The difficulty with small claims is that there is no right to appeal. Pursuing superior court may require a lawyer unless you are very savvy. A 1983 action however will entitle you to attorney fees if you win.

    If you requested a hearing at the station, that is sufficient. The stations inability to process the request is not your problem, it has become their problem. Also, the police agency is required to send the legal owner a notice within two days notifying the owner of his right to a hearing. Was this done? If not, another violation can be claimed in the suit.

    You also made reference to section 14602.6 which deals with suspended or revoked licenses. You do need to determine if your license was suspended. If it is simply expired, a different section, 14607.6, applies and the vehicle can be obtained sooner. In any case, your due process rights have been violated. Consult an attorney.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Vehicle Impounded for Driving on Expired License

    Quote Quoting LawMan
    View Post
    A 1983 action however will entitle you to attorney fees if you win.
    Turning a procedural issue into a 1983 action would be a very creative thing, indeed. And, if it failed, the plaintiff would likely be out a LOT of money for the retainer.

    If your threat prevailed, it was because the agency knew they messed up and they paid up. I have serious doubts that this sort of case would make it to the inside of a federal court.

    If you requested a hearing at the station, that is sufficient.
    He may not have requested the hearing. Asking to speak with a particular officer is NOT the same as requesting a hearing. Besides, it is not the OP here that can request the hearing, it is the registered owner or his or her agent. If the registered owner or his or her agent had made that request within 10 days, then they are required to honor it within 48 hours. They would not necessarily need to honor the driver's request.

    Also, the police agency is required to send the legal owner a notice within two days notifying the owner of his right to a hearing. Was this done? If not, another violation can be claimed in the suit.
    The notice is required to send the notice to the registered and legal owner within 48 hours excluding weekends and holidays. Failure to comply with this requirement would likely result in the agency having to eat any fees for the impound in excess of the first two days.

    In any case, your due process rights have been violated. Consult an attorney.
    Actually, it is the due process rights of the OWNER (registered or legal) that may be at issue here, not the driver as he has no standing to even request a hearing absent permission from the owner to do so. So, it may well be the OWNER that will have to go to court here and not the driver.

    The agency fouled up by creating a 30 day tow, but without the registered owner addressing it, the car would remain in impound anyway. So, there may really be no difference and the end result may well be the same.
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

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