Why was my car impounded?
It is quite frustrating and draining to deal with an impound on your car. Once you report to the police station to collect your vehicle, you will be completely worn out as it not a simple process. However, before you get to that point, you must note that any police officer can impound your car. An officer of the law can impound your vehicle if they have reasonable cause to do so. There are many scenarios where your car may violate the law. This will prompt the officers patrolling the areas to confiscate your car. it could be due to a crime in which your vehicle was an accessory, or otherwise. Since you might find yourself in such a situation, you must know something about such cases beforehand.
When can the police impound my car?
If the car was involved in a crime
According to the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, any law enforcement officer can impound your vehicle with justifiable reasons. These cut across a wide range, provided, they go against the law. So, when can a police officer impound my vehicle?
The answer is quite diverse and inclusive. However, some of the reasons include:
If found with a firearm in your car, which you cannot account for its registration, then, the officers can seize your vehicle. Additionally, if the rifle, shotgun or handgun were used to commit a crime, then you are sure that the car will face impoundment.
Secondly, if your car is an accessory to a crime of the first, second, third, or fourth degree, then, an officer is authorized by law to confiscate it. Also, if the vehicle commissioned a crime, including sexual abuse of a minor, under the section N.J.S.2C:34-1, and N.J.S.2C.:35-10, a law enforcement officer can impound your car
If the car itself is evidence of a crime
Say you are driving too fast, and at the junction, you fail to stop. I the process, you end up hitting a pedestrian, and due to panic or any reason, you decide to flee the crime scene. Charged with vehicular manslaughter, any officer of the law who finds you can impound your vehicle. This is because it serves as evidence of a crime. Sometimes, some of the evidence from crime could be in your car.
If your car is a threat to public safety
If you drive a car and smoke is leaking from your bonnet, the wheels are loosely fixed and misaligned; then, your vehicle is a threat to the public. If you are driving recklessly, with no regard for your fellow drivers or the pedestrians on the sidewalks, then, there is a compelling reason to impound your vehicle. Also, if you pack your car in an unsafe area, say a corner, or your vehicle appears to be abandoned, then, an officer can impound your vehicle.
What happens when an officer impounds your car?
Any time an officer of the law finds justification to impound your car, they tow it to their station. They have the authority to charge you a reasonable administrative fee. This is in addition to the towing charges, alongside the storage fee for the impounded vehicle. Notably, the car stays in police custody until you settle all payments. It is important to note that the fees charged for an impounded vehicle are imposed on the owner of the car, and not necessarily the driver. All these fees are paid to the municipality impounding the vehicle.
Also, the registered owner of the car has a right to a hearing. However, should he/she wait for more than 90 days, after the day of impound, the municipality can auction the vehicle? However, this depends on whether or not they convict the owner of a crime. If the owner of the vehicle is innocent of any crimes, they can collect their car. Also, if there is justification that the car was not involved in unlawful activities, then, the owner of the vehicle can collect it from the station.
What happens when the amount earned from the auction of the impounded vehicle exceeds the administrative, towing, and storage charges? In that case, the extra amount is refunded to the owner of the car.