For many of those arrested for DUI, there is an immediate concern that arises the moment the handcuffs click: what will happen to my car? When you are taken into police custody, you can no longer look after and safeguard your vehicle. Many people worry that it could be damaged; some wonder if the vehicle will be out-and-out abandoned. Thankfully, these fears are usually unfounded. There are usually two scenarios that could happen to your vehicle after you are arrested for DUI: (1) it could be towed and impounded; or (2) a friend or family member may drive it home.
Vehicle Impound in Alleged Georgia DUI Cases
If it was just you in the vehicle, there is a strong chance your vehicle will be impounded after a DUI arrest. An officer may seize the keys to the vehicle and have it towed to a location for storage. An inventory search is conducted prior to the vehicle being towed away. An inventory search is meant to be a way for the police to identify any valuables inside the vehicle, so that if any of these valuables disappear while the car is impounded, the police will not be held responsible.
Unfortunately, if the police find any contraband items in your vehicle, you may face additional charges depending on the items found. Alternatively, police may find evidence to hold against you that would facilitate the prosecutor's effort to gain a conviction for your alleged DUI. Some examples of DUI evidence or contraband include:
- Open containers of alcohol;
- Illegal drugs;
- Prescription medicine not in its proper container;
- Prescription medicine prescribed to someone else -- not you -- but that person was not in the vehicle;
- An unlicensed weapon; or, among other examples,
- Stolen merchandise.
If contraband was found, you could face additional criminal charges. The courts have ruled that this process is not an unreasonable search and seizure because it is conducted in the pursuit of evidence for a suspected DUI. A warrant is not usually required when items are found during a police inventory search.
At some point, before you are released from custody, the information to locate your vehicle will be provided. The vehicle impounding is not regarded as a criminal penalty, instead, it is handled as a civil administrative process. You will usually be able to get your car back after you post bail and pay the associated fines and administrative fees.
Bear in mind, you only have 30 days from the date of your Georgia DUI arrest to appeal the automatic suspension of your driver's license. If no appeal is filed, your license will go into suspension on the 46th day. If you are accused of refusing to submit to the state-administer test, and no appeal is filed, your suspension will be for 12-months.
In a case where you took the state-administered chemical test, you will lose your license for at least 30 days but it can be longer depending on whether or not you take the steps to reinstate. The suspension can certainly be fought, but not if you miss the 30-day deadline to appeal it. This is why it is critical that you waste no time in hiring an attorney who can file an appeal on your behalf and represent you at the license suspension hearing.
Sober Driver Driving Car Home
If there is a trusted, sober driver present at the time of the arrest, police may allow him or her, with your consent, to drive the vehicle to your home, or wherever you prefer it to be parked. Under some circumstances, you may be allowed to make a phone call and have a friend or family member come retrieve the car for you.
Georgia DUI Attorney
There are a number of issues that can arise during a DUI arrest. A Georgia DUI attorney will scrutinize your case to ensure that none of your rights were violated during the traffic stop, arrest, vehicle search and possible impounding. Contact a Georgia DUI attorney immediately to have your DUI case reviewed.