Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Mar 20, 2022

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Key Takeaways

  • No matter if your car gets towed or stolen, you can search for it online or call your local police department with our VIN and license plate number
  • You need a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance, and the vehicle title and registration to get your car from impound
  • Even if your vehicle is stolen and recovered by police, you’re responsible for paying the impound fees as the owner of the vehicle

Wondering how to find out if the police impound your car? Start by calling your local police station. You can also find a towed vehicle by VIN online with your state impound vehicle locator. However, it can take a few days for your vehicle’s information to appear in the system. 

Depending on when and how your vehicle gets towed, it could be in an impound lot or police custody. Call the police station or the local traffic authority if you need to find out if your car gets towed or stolen quickly.

If you received a citation before your car got impounded, the officer would list the number of the impound lot. Similarly, the towing company’s number should be in the parking lot if you were illegally parked.

This step-by-step guide covers everything you need to find out if the police impounded your car. Keep reading to learn what happens to stolen cars impounded by the police and how state impound laws impact the cost of recovering your vehicle.

How do you find out if the police impounded your car?

What happens if my car gets impounded, but I wasn’t the driver? There are several reasons the police tow vehicles, no matter who’s driving. They will tow a vehicle for any of the following reasons:

  • It is illegally parked or impeding traffic.
  • It has outstanding parking tickets.
  • The driver is driving while intoxicated.
  • The driver doesn’t have their insurance or a license in the vehicle.

The police may also impound your vehicle if it’s abandoned and undrivable or considered evidence in a crime. In addition, some states have laws regarding when a vehicle can get towed

For example, if the police impound your car for criminal activity, including DUIs and parking violations, you may not be able to recover it right away. Laws often require drivers to wait 30 to 90 days before getting cars out of impound. If someone stole your vehicle, you might have to wait until the end of the investigation.

In other states, towing is at the discretion of police and business owners who need to remove vehicles illegally parked on their property. If you aren’t sure where your vehicle is, follow the steps below to find out if the police impounded your car:

Step One: Search the State Impound Vehicle Locator

Search online if you cannot find any towing information on your citation or in a parking lot. Most states have online databases where drivers can search across cities for their vehicles in multiple impound lots.

Have your VIN and license plate number handy to find out if the police impounded your car. The impound vehicle locator will want the state you’re registered to drive in no matter where you live.

Don’t worry if you don’t find your car right away — it can take 48 hours or more for your vehicle’s information to appear in the system. However, there are faster ways to find out if the police impounded your car.

Step Two: Call Your Local Police Station or Parking Authority

If your car gets towed when you weren’t driving — or if you suspect it’s stolen — call the local non-emergency number to speak with a police clerk about your vehicle. Give them your VIN and license plate number. They will let you know if they recover your vehicle and where you can find it.

Step Three: Contact The Local Impound Lot

Once you have the number for the impound lot, you can confirm that your vehicle is there and find out what you need to recover it. Likewise, if the police haven’t recovered your vehicle, you can call local impound lots to find your car. 

Give them your VIN and license plate number to confirm your vehicle, and make sure you have the following when you retrieve your car in person:

  • Driver’s license
  • Vehicle title or registration
  • Proof of insurance

You can show proof of registration if you have a car loan or are leasing your vehicle. If you’re retrieving a rental car, make sure you have a copy of the rental agreement on your person and not in the impounded vehicle.

However, you cannot get your car out of impound without an up-to-date insurance policy. Impound lots don’t have insurance requirements, but state law requires minimum liability insurance. If you have a lease or car loan, you may need collision and comprehensive insurance, also known as full coverage car insurance.

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How do I find out if my car gets towed or stolen?

The police will tow and impound your car if they find it. If you report it stolen, they will notify you. It will also appear in an online impound vehicle locator. However, since your car was involved in a crime, you may have to wait a while before you can retrieve it.

No matter the circumstances, you’re responsible for paying the impound fees as the vehicle owner. If you buy comprehensive car insurance, your insurance policy will cover it, but you’ll pay out-of-pocket if you only carry liability coverage.

Comprehensive coverage only adds between $10 and $20 extra to your auto insurance rates per month. Compare that to the cost of impound fees below to see if a comprehensive policy is right for you.

How much will it cost to get my car out of impound?

It can cost $1,000 or more to retrieve your car. In general, you can expect to pay for:

  • $250+ for towing
  • $75+ for impound
  • $100+ per day for storage
  • $20+ per day for release

Your state laws influence the cost of getting your car out of impound, but most states stack multiple towing and storage fees. The size and model of your vehicle will also impact the cost.

How to Find out if The Police Impounded Your Car: The Bottom Line

Whether your car gets towed or stolen, you can search for it online or call your local police department. Use your VIN and license plate number to locate your vehicle, then contact the impound lot to confirm what you need to recover your vehicle.

Even if you weren’t the driver or your car gets stolen, you are still responsible for the towing and impound fees. You can expect to pay up to $1,000 or more to recover your car from impound. However, there may be limits on how much lots can charge depending on where you live.

The good news is that comprehensive car insurance covers auto theft. Depending on your policy terms, your insurer may reimburse you for impound fees.

Comprehensive coverage will only raise your rates between $10 and $20 per month, and you can get affordable quotes when comparing car insurance companies online. Consider a comprehensive insurance policy before you’re stuck paying out-of-pocket to get your car out of impound.