Vehicle Impounds

Information Topics:

Right to Hearing
Jurisdiction
Notice
Request for Hearing
Filing Fee
Waiver of Hearing
Hearing Request Without Vehicle Redemption
Receipt of Timely Hearing Request
Written Notice of Hearing Date and Time
Hearing
Administrative Hearings Officer
Production of Evidence
Court's Determination and/or Judgment
Driving While License Suspended Impounds

 

 

 

 

Hearing Rights and Procedures

Right to Hearing

Any person seeking to redeem an impounded vehicle has a right to a hearing in the district or municipal court for the jurisdiction in which the vehicle was impounded to contest the validity of the impoundment or the amount of towing and/or storage charges.

 

Jurisdiction

The district court has jurisdiction to determine the issues involving all impoundments including those authorized by the state or its agents.

 

Notice

The tow truck operator shall give written notice of the right of redemption of the vehicle or item of personal property and opportunity for a hearing, accompanied by a form for requesting a hearing, and a copy of the towing and storage invoice.

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Request for Hearing

Any request for a hearing must be made in writing on the form and received by the court within ten(10) days of the date the opportunity was provided and more than five (5) days before the date of the auction.

 

Filing Fee

At the time of filing the hearing request, the petitioner must pay the fee to file (refer to the Fee Schedule).

 

Waiver of Hearing

If the hearing request is not received by the court within the ten (10) day period and less than five (5) days before the auction, the right to a hearing is waived and the registered owner is liable for any towing, storage, or other impoundment charges.

 

Hearing Request Without Vehicle Redemption

Where a timely request has been made for a court hearing and where the vehicle owner has failed to redeem the vehicle, the sale of the vehicle at public auction shall not take place until after the court has disposed of the hearing request.

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Receipt of Timely Hearing Request

Upon receipt of a timely hearing request, the court shall hear and determine the validity of the impoundment.

 

Written Notice of Hearing Date and Time

The court, within five (5) days after the request for a hearing, will notify the following in writing of the hearing date and time:

  • the tow truck operator

  • the person requesting the hearing if not the owner

  • the registered and legal owners of the vehicle or other item of personal property registered or titled with the department

  • the person or agency authorizing the impound

 

Hearing

The hearing is held in the court for the jurisdiction in which the vehicle was impounded.

 

Administrative Hearings Officer

The hearing may be conducted by an administrative hearings officer instead of in the court. A decision made by an administrative hearings officer may be appealed to the district court for final judgment.

 

Production of Evidence

At the hearing, the person or persons requesting the hearing may produce any relevant evidence to show that the impoundment, towing, or storage fees charged were not proper. The court may consider a written report made under oath by the officer who authorized the impoundment in lieu of the officer's personal appearance at the hearing.

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Court's Determination/Judgment

At the conclusion of the hearing, the court shall determine whether the impoundment was proper, whether the towing or storage fees charged were in compliance with the posted rates, and who is responsible for payment of the fees. The court may not adjust fees or charges that are in compliance with the posted or contracted rates.

If the impoundment is found proper, the impoundment, towing, and storage fees, together with court costs, shall be assessed against the person or persons requesting the hearing, unless the operator did not have a signed and valid impoundment authorization from a private property owner or an authorized agent.

If the impoundment is determined to be improper, then the registered and legal owners of the vehicle or other item of personal property registered or titled with the department shall bear no impoundment, towing, storage fees, and any security shall be returned or discharged as appropriate. The person or agency who authorized the impoundment shall be liable for any towing, storage, or other impoundment fees permitted under Chapter 46.55 RCW.

The court shall enter judgment in favor of the registered tow truck operator against the person or agency authorizing the impound for the impoundment, towing, and storage fees paid.

 

Driving While License Suspended Impounds

If your license is suspended, the car you are driving may be impounded at the time of a stop by a law enforcement officer. There are three different kinds of impoundment consequences possible depending on your driving record history.

  1. The first situation occurs when your license is suspended in the Third Degree and have unpaid traffic tickets that have suspended your driving privilege. All Failure to Appear (FTA) cases will need to be paid in order for you to gain a release of your vehicle. Once your citations are paid in full you may obtain a release letter from the court to provide to the towing company.

  2. The second situation of impoundment can require a 30 day mandatory hold in impoundment if your driving status is suspended in the Third Degree and you have prior Driving While License Suspended Third Degree violations on your record.

  3. And finally, the third situation of impoundment can occur if your driving status is Driving While License Suspended in the First or Second Degree. This status may result in a 60 day mandatory impoundment hold placed on your vehicle.

If you feel the impoundment was improper you may file an impound hearing with Okanogan County District Court as described above within 10 days. Should you wish to have a hearing to discuss a hardship situation that will result for you or your family due to the vehicle impoundment, you will need to file that request with the law enforcement agency that authorized the towing. This type of hearing is a hardship hearing.

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