Immobilization of Vehicle in Arizona

Having a vehicle immobilized can be a significant problem for most people. If you work, go to school or have children, then you know being unable to drive can be more than a mere headache, but problematic to the fulfillment of your duties as a productive citizen. In Arizona, the law is quite clear and strict about when a vehicle will be immobilized. If you are ever in a situation where your vehicle is removed and immobilized in Mojave County generally, or Bullhead City and Kingman specifically, review the below information and take action to get your vehicle back as soon as possible.

Conditions Mandating Vehicle Removal and Immobilization

Arizona law establishes a number of conditions that mandate police officers to remove and immobilize or impound vehicles under certain specific circumstances. Listed below are the conditions that invoke this mandate.

  1. The vehicle was either for sale or ready for transfer of ownership, however, the vehicle identification number had been destroyed, removed, covered, altered or defaced; or
  2. The person driving the vehicle was doing so while any of the following circumstances apply:
    • the person's driver license was suspended or revoked for any reason;
    • the person did not have or has never had a valid driver license or permit;
    • the person is arrested for either Extreme DUI or Aggravated DUI;
    • the person driving is under the age 21 and have alcohol, regardless how little, in his or her body
    • the person is subject to an ignition interlock device but said device is not certified;
    • the person knows or recklessly disregards that he or she is transporting an illegal immigrant; or
    • the person conceals, harbors, or shields an illegal immigrant from detection and knows or recklessly disregards that the illegal immigrant came, entered and remains in the U.S. in violation of the law.

How to Regain Custody of Your Vehicle

If your vehicle has been immobilized in accordance with A.R.S. 28-3511, your vehicle will remain immobilized for 30 days. Within 10 days directly after the 30-day immobilization period expires, you must follow the instructions the police officer provided to you at the time your vehicle was immobilized. In sum, the basic procedure to regain custody of your vehicle is as follows:

1. Go the appropriate police department. You must physically go into the police department to formally request the release of your vehicle.

  • Bullhead City Police Department, 1255 Marina Blvd., Bullhead City, AZ 86442, 928-763-3357
  • Kingman City Police Department, 2730 E. Andy Devine Ave., Kingman, AZ 86401, 928-753-1911
  • Mohave County Sheriff's Office, 600 W. Beale St., Kingman, AZ 86401, 928-753-0753

2. Bring the following documentation with you:

  • Valid Driver License (alternatively, if a driver's license will not be restored in due time to pick-up the vehicle, bring a driver with a valid license);
  • Valid Registration; and
  • Proof of Current Financial Responsibility (auto insurance).

3. At the police department, pay the administrative fee of $150.00 by cash, money order, and credit or debit card; this fee must be paid prior to the release of the vehicle. In exchange for proper documentation and payment, you will be given a release form.

4. At the towing company, provide the release form and pay the towing and storage fees (.e.g, flat rate tow charge + $15 per day storage fee). The towing company cannot release the vehicle until the police department provides notification that the towing company can release it; the towing company will not release it if its fees are not paid. You must bring with you: (1) proof of identity; and (2) proof of vehicle ownership.

Upon request for release of the vehicle, provision of all required documentation, and payment of fees, the police department does not guarantee the release of the vehicle on the same day. You also have only 10 days to claim your vehicle at the police department after the 30-day period. If 10 days expire and you have not claimed the vehicle, the towing company will deem it as abandoned.

Early Release of Your Vehicle

If 30 days is way too long to wait, which is for almost everyone, then within the first 10 days of impoundment, you can request an administrative hearing for early release of your vehicle. Persons who can make a request for a hearing are registered owners, agents of the owner, spouses, or anyone other than the owner if identified on the department's record as having an interest in the vehicle at the time of removal and immobilization.

Unfortunately, those persons whose vehicles are eligible for early release are limited to following conditions:

  • The owner's vehicle was not immobilized within the past year; and
  • the owner provides proof that his or her driving privilege has been reinstated; or
  • the owner is married and provides a valid marriage license; or
  • the vehicle is subject to bailment and was driven by an employee of a business; or
  • the vehicle was stolen; or
  • the (1) owner or spouse was not the person driving in violation at the time of the immobilization; and (2) owner is in the business of renting motor vehicles without drivers; and (3) vehicle is registered pursuant to ARS § 28-2166.

These are limited scenarios, but if one applies to you, then time is of the essence. If you do not request a hearing within the 10-day period, your request for it will not be granted.

When to Contact an Experienced Attorney

In most cases, you will not need to contact an experienced attorney. The 30-day hold on your vehicle is standard. In cases, however, where you feel that you qualify and want to request an administrative hearing for early release, then retaining an attorney would be beneficial.

A criminal defense or DUI attorney can provide assistance throughout the entire matter, including legal counsel and support during and after the hearing. An experienced attorney knows (1) how to craft the argument; and (2) what the examiners want to see and hear from you. If you want to request an administrative hearing, then retain an attorney immediately so that you request and prepare appropriately within due time. If it is your intention to regain custody of your car sooner as opposed to later, contact the Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp today to discuss your options.

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