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vehicle penalties

If the police arrest a driver for a DUI/DWI criminal offense they will often have the vehicle towed and impounded at an impound lot. In some states the vehicle can be retrieved beginning 8-24 hours following the impoundment. If there is a passenger who the police determine is sober or a friend or family member of the driver who arrives before the police have the vehicle towed such a person may be allowed to drive the vehicle from the scene of the DUI/DWI arrest.

In some states the vehicle may be confiscated and held at the impound lot for 30-90 days (forfeiture), and in some states up to 180 days. Vehicle confiscation usually occurs when the defendant has previous DUI/DWI convictions and is designed to prevent the defendant from using the vehicle to commit another DUI/DWI offense.

And in some states the driver's license plates or registration may be confiscated or subject to forfeiture upon a DUI/DWI arrest, or special license plates with numbers or stickers readily identifiable by law enforcement may be issued to the driver—providing probable cause for the vehicle to be stopped and the driver questioned if a police officer observes irregular driving.

The police may search the vehicle as a search incident to a lawful arrest—which is an exception to the general requirement that the police have a search warrant to comply with the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. And if the vehicle is towed and impounded a police officer at the impound lot may perform an inventory search of the vehicle—which is also an exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement. Any contraband the police find in such searches—such as illegal drugs or stolen goods—may subject the defendant to additional criminal charges and will be admissible in evidence against the defendant.

A driver whose vehicle is towed and impounded will be required to pay towing and storage fees to retrieve the vehicle—and depending on applicable law a vehicle that remains in an impound lot for a certain number of days (usually 30-40) may be sold at a public auction and the proceeds applied to towing and storage fees, with any remaining funds being delivered to the owner of the vehicle.

In Texas, when a driver is arrested for a DUI/DWI offense, the police may tow and impound the vehicle. If a sober passenger or a friend or family member is present and capable of driving the vehicle safely, they may be allowed to take the vehicle from the scene. Texas law allows for vehicle confiscation in cases of repeat DUI/DWI offenders, which can prevent the individual from committing further offenses. The duration of impoundment can vary, and in some cases, the vehicle may be held for an extended period. Additionally, Texas may issue special license plates or confiscate license plates or registration upon a DUI/DWI arrest, making the vehicle more identifiable to law enforcement. The police are permitted to search the vehicle incident to a lawful arrest without a warrant, and any contraband found can lead to additional charges. If the vehicle is towed and impounded, the driver will be responsible for towing and storage fees. If the vehicle is not retrieved within a certain period, typically 30-40 days, it may be sold at public auction, with proceeds going towards the fees and any surplus returned to the owner.

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