Has your vehicle ever been towed by the police and then impounded at the tow yard for 30 days? Maybe you wonder why this has happened, especially if you weren’t the driver. You’re not alone. In 2005 the Sacramento Police Department towed 5,255 cars under California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 14602.6 which resulted in 30-day impounds.
What is Section 14602.6 and why is it important for vehicle owners to understand? The following information can mean the difference between losing your car for 30 days, paying towing, storage and release fees, or not.
Section 14602.6 was added to the CVC in 1994 as a way to deal with drivers with revoked or suspended licenses, or who have never been licensed. These drivers have been found to be some of the most dangerous on the road. CVC 14602.6 makes it unlawful for a registered owner to allow another person to drive his or her vehicle without first making a reasonable effort to determine that the driver has a valid driver’s license.
When a vehicle is towed and impounded for 30 days, an owner learns the hard way that even though he or she wasn’t driving and may not have even been in the vehicle when the police stopped it, he or she is responsible for the unlicensed driver’s actions. The result is not having the vehicle for 30 days, and paying total fees in the range of $1,400 to get the vehicle released.
The law does allow for a hearing if the owner requests it within 10 days of receiving notification of the tow. In 2005, 2,224 tow hearings were held by the Sacramento Police Department at the request of registered owners of impounded vehicles. Approximately 10% of hearings result in the early release of vehicles to the registered owner, and only if there are special mitigating circumstances.
According to Sacramento Police Department Traffic Section Lieutenant Bill Beermann, unlicensed or suspended-license drivers cause approximately 80 percent of all hit and run collisions. Under the law, lending your vehicle out to the wrong person can result in heavy penalties for you, the registered owner. If you think of your vehicle as one of the most expensive possessions you have, as well as a potentially deadly weapon, then you realize that owning a vehicle is serious business.