Vehicle impoundment

Vehicle impoundment is the legal process of placing a vehicle into an impoundment lot or tow yard[1], which is a holding place for cars until they are placed back in the control of the owner, recycled for their metal, stripped of their parts at a wrecking yard or auctioned off for the benefit of the impounding agency. The impounding agency can be a police department while all terms are negotiated between politicians and towing companies.

Reasons for impoundment

Vehicles may be impounded:

  • by government agencies (usually municipalities) when
    • there are unresolved parking violation(s) of a certain age, and possibly above a total fine threshold
    • in certain instances, during the violation of a parking ordinance (in zones marked "tow away zone" or similar)
    • the registrant of the vehicle has certain unresolved moving violations
    • the vehicle is collected as evidence of the commission of a potential crime (e.g. homicide or drug smuggling).
    • there are no qualified drivers to operate the vehicle
  • in some jurisdictions, as part of repossession of a vehicle by a lessor or lender

The process for impoundment is as follows:

  • Owner or operator creates the legal basis for impoundment as above (failure to make payments, illegal vehicle usage, etc.)
  • A grant of authority to impound is made either implicitly or explicitly (see below)
  • An agency that has the legal authority to execute impoundment locates the vehicle (see below)
  • The agency takes possession of the vehicle and tows it to the impoundment lot
  • If the owner or operator does not clear the issue (payment, etc.), after a certain defined period, the vehicle is sold at auction
  • After deducting the costs of the auction, the impoundment process, and any other fees from the sale price, the remainder is returned to the owner

Grant of authority

Before a vehicle can be impounded, the impounding agency must receive some right to perform impoundment. In some cases, this may involve a court decision. In others, there is an automatic right to impound if certain conditions are met. For example, in New York City, a parking ticket that is not pleaded for 100 days, or not paid 100 days after losing a court decision, results in default judgement, and a car with a ticket in default judgement may automatically be eligible for the New York City Sheriff to impound.

For repossession-based impoundment, the lending agency or its assignee is granted authority by either a court order, or in some cases, by contract law. In some jurisdictions, that authority may allow the lender to repossess the vehicle using its own resources; in others, the lender must request a sheriff, marshall, or other government agent to perform or oversee the repossession activity.

Locating the vehicle

The impounding agency may identify an impoundment candidate and hunt for it. This is often true in cases of repossession, very large outstanding fines, or serious vehicle violations. More typically, an impounding agency has a list of vehicles to impound, and sends agents to check every car in a certain area against that list. If the agent happens to locate a vehicle on the list, the agent starts the process of taking possession and towing of the vehicle

Towing the vehicle

The impounding agent may travel in a tow truck, in which case, he may be able to conduct the tow directly with no additional input. Often, the agent may not have the authority to do so, and may have to call in a specific resource (badged agent, marshall, etc.) to oversee the operation. If the locating agent and/or authorized agent do not have a tow vehicle, they will have to call one in, either from the agency's own fleet, or for a contracted towing company.

In some cases, if the owner or operator intervenes during the tow procedure, he may be able to stop it, often by paying the fine on the spot via a portable credit card reader.

The towed vehicle is taken to an impoundment lot. The lot may be exclusively for impoundments, or it may be a storage yard that also serves other functions, such as parking for an area site, or a vehicle repair shop.


An impounded vehicle auction is a type of auction that specializes in selling abandoned and disabled vehicles. Once a car is towed by municipalities or private companies and the requisite time has passed, the cars are auctioned to recover the cost of towing and storage.

These auctions are typically held by an auctioneer on the grounds of the tow lot, but Internet-based auctions are becoming more common. (, Proxi Bid)

Most states require a rigorous process to determine the owner of the vehicle and the disposition of the title before allowing a vehicle to be auctioned. This includes a title search, publication of an impending sale and certified letters in an attempt to give the vehicle's owner an opportunity to pay towing and storage costs and recover the vehicle. In the case of serviceable vehicles, the towing company may offer this documentation in a packet known as the possessory lien papers, which can be used to obtain a new title. Given the expense of the process, many lots will charge a significant fee for the papers.

States and municipalities vary widely in their treatment of impound auctions. In some states, bidders must register as salvage dealers or restoration companies in order to bid. In Missouri, impounded vehicles may only be offered to the general public with a salvage title, while other states have no restrictions on who may purchase a vehicle.

Impounded vehicles are offered as-is, where-is with no warranty. Those auctioning the vehicles likely have no knowledge of its mechanical condition beyond the obvious (such as rust), and are generally exempt from providing warranties. As a winning bidder, one must purchase and take possession of the vehicle, even if it is not capable of leaving the lot under its own power. Keys are not always available, and in cars with a digital dash, the mileage may not be known.


The word impound means to place into a pound, a secured area to hold things. An impoundment lot can thus be simply called a "pound", but the use of "impoundment lot" in current usage typically means a vehicle impoundment lot, as opposed to, say, a dog pound. An equivalent unambiguous phrasing is "vehicle pound", which is still a term in current widespread use.

Local laws



In April 2013, the Queensland Government approved amendments to the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000,[2] regarding motor vehicle impoundment with the aim of improving road safety.

On November 1, 2013, State of Queensland the amended legislation commenced as the country's toughest anti-hooning laws.

From May 1, 2014, Australian towing company was contracted by the Queensland Police Service as the exclusive provider of towing & impoundment relating to hoon type 1 & type 2 offences in State of Queensland.



Vehicle impoundment is an option, or is mandatory, for a variety of offences, among them exceeding a posted speed limit by at least 50 km/h and drink-driving.

United States


In 2015, Sacramento attempted to pass legislation in consideration of Homeless persons in high risk impoundment situations.[3] The law could prevent a common practice of salvaging a homeless persons sleeping quarters for a profit of $50 which would be paid to the impound lot.


In Seattle, impound fees in (3) separate towing classes range between $165-$209 per hour.[4]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000" (PDF). Queensland State Government. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  3. ^
  4. ^
Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party

The Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party was a political party in Australia from 2013 to 2017. Ricky Muir held a seat for the party in the Australian Senate from 2013 to 2016. The party voluntarily de-registered with the AEC on 8 February 2017.

Drunk driving in the United States

Drunk driving is the act of operating a motor vehicle with the operator's ability to do so impaired as a result of alcohol consumption, or with a blood alcohol level in excess of the legal limit. For drivers 21 years or older, driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is illegal. For drivers under 21 years old, the legal limit is lower, with state limits ranging from 0.00 to 0.02. Lower BAC limits apply when operating boats, airplanes, or commercial vehicles. Among other names, the criminal offense of drunk driving may be called driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated or impaired (DWI), operating [a] vehicle under the influence of alcohol (OVI), or operating while impaired (OWI).

Drunk driving law by country

The laws of driving under the influence vary between countries. One difference is the acceptable limit of blood alcohol content before a person is charged with a crime.

Highway Traffic Act (Ontario)

The Highway Traffic Act (HTA) (the Act) is an Ontario Act which regulates the licensing of vehicles, classification of traffic offences, administration of loads, classification of vehicles and other transport related issues. First introduced in 1923 to deal with increasing accidents during the early years of motoring in Ontario, and replacing earlier legislation such as the Highway Travel Act, there have been amendments due to changes to driving conditions and new transportation trends. For example, in 2009, the Act was revised to ban the use of cell phones while driving.

Offences under the Highway Traffic Act are the most commonly tried in Provincial Offences court. Over 1.3 million offences are tried each year under the Act, with the most common charges being:

s. 128 - Speeding (559,013)

s. 144 - Red light - proceed before green (127,836)

s. 7 - Drive motor vehicle, no currently validated permit (117,470)

s. 136 - Disobey stop sign - fail to stop (51,263)

s. 78.1 - Drive - hand-held communication device (51,210)

List of historical political parties in Australia

This article lists historical political parties in Australia.

These are Australian political parties which are no longer registered with any federal, state or territory political bodies, and can thus no longer contest elections. A number of these may still exist as organisations in some form, however, if they are inactive as a political party they are listed here. For notable political parties that are not registered but remain active, see unregistered political parties

List of law enforcement agencies in Canada

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Louisville Metro Police Department

The Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) began operations on January 6, 2003, as part of the creation of the consolidated city-county government in Louisville, Kentucky, United States. It was formed by the merger of the Jefferson County Police Department and the Louisville Division of Police. The Louisville Metro Police Department is headed by Chief Steve Conrad. LMPD divides Jefferson County into eight patrol divisions and operates a number of special investigative and support units. In popular culture, the LMPD was the lead agency investigating a serial killer in an episode of Criminal Minds (Season 5, Ep. 2, "Haunted").

Punishment in Australia

Punishment in Australia arises when an individual has been convicted of breaking the law through the Australian criminal justice system. Australia uses prisons, as well as community corrections (various non-custodial punishments such as parole, probation, community service etc). The death penalty has been abolished, and corporal punishment is no longer used. Prison labour occurs in Australia, prisoners are involved in many types of work with some paid as little as $0.82 per hour. Before the colonisation of Australia by Europeans, Indigenous Australians had their own traditional punishments, some of which are still practised.Prisons in Australia are operated by state-based correctional services departments, for the detention of minimum, medium, maximum and supermax security prisoners convicted in state and federal courts, as well as prisoners on remand. There is no separate federal prison infrastructure (unlike what exists under US federal law via the local Bureau of Prisons), only state prisons. In the June quarter of 2018, there were 42,855 people imprisoned in Australia, which represents an incarceration rate of 222 prisoners per 100,000 adult population., or 172 per 100,000 total population. This represents a sharp increase from previous decades. In 2016-2017 the prison population was not representative of the Australian population, for example 91% of prisoners were male, while males were only half of the population, and 27% of prisoners were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, while indigenous people were only 2.8% of the population. In 2018, 18.4% of prisoners in Australia were held in private prisons.In the 2016-17 financial year, Australia spent $3.1 billion on prisons and $0.5 billion on community corrections.Australia also detains non-citizens in a separate system of immigration detention centres, operated by the federal Department of Home Affairs, pending their deportation and to prevent them from entering the Australian community. Controversially this includes the detention of asylum seekers, including children, while their claims to be refugees are determined. The purpose of immigration detention is not punishment and a non-citizen can lawfully be detained indefinitely without charge or trial. It has been stated the different purposes make little practical difference between immigration detention and imprisonment, and that detainees often experience immigration detention as if it were punishment.


Towing is coupling two or more objects together so that they may be pulled by a designated power source or sources. The towing source may be a motorized land vehicle, vessel, animal, or human, the load anything that can be pulled. These may be joined by a chain, rope, bar, hitch, three-point, fifth wheel, coupling, drawbar, integrated platform, or other means of keeping the objects together while in motion.

Towing may be as simple as a tractor pulling a tree stump. The most familiar form is the transport of disabled or otherwise indisposed vehicles by a tow truck or "wrecker." Other familiar forms are the tractor-trailer combination, and cargo or leisure vehicles coupled via ball or pintle and gudgeon trailer-hitches to smaller trucks and cars. In the opposite extreme are extremely heavy duty tank recovery vehicles, and enormous ballast tractors involved in heavy hauling towing loads stretching into the millions of pounds.

Necessarily, government and industry standards have been developed for carriers, lighting, and coupling to ensure safety and interoperability of towing equipment.

Historically, barges were hauled along rivers or canals using tow ropes drawn by men or draught animals walking along towpaths on the banks. Later came chain boats. Today, tug boats are used to maneuver larger vessels and barges. Over thousands of years the maritime industry has refined towing to a science.

Aircraft tow one-another as well. Troop and cargo carrying gliders are towed behind powered aircraft, which remains a popular means of getting modern leisure gliders aloft.

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