Having your car towed and impounded can be an extremely frustrating and expensive experience. If the car is not registered in your name, navigating the release process becomes even more complicated in Texas.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: In Texas, an impounded vehicle can only be released to the registered owner or authorized representative. Non-owners have limited options and will likely need a power of attorney.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain the impound release laws in Texas, outline the steps for non-registered owners to reclaim an impounded car, and provide tips for avoiding this situation altogether.
Texas Impound Release Laws
Registered Owner Requirement
When it comes to releasing a car from impound to a non-registered owner in Texas, there are certain requirements that must be met. One of the primary requirements is that the registered owner of the vehicle must authorize the release.
This means that if you are not the registered owner of the vehicle, you cannot simply pick it up from the impound lot without the owner’s permission. The impound lot will require proof of ownership, such as a valid ID, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance, to ensure that the person picking up the vehicle is authorized to do so.
In some cases, the registered owner of the vehicle may not be available to authorize the release themselves. In such situations, Texas law allows for authorized representatives to pick up the vehicle on behalf of the owner.
An authorized representative can be someone who has power of attorney or a legal guardian of the registered owner. The impound lot will typically require proper documentation and proof of authorization from the registered owner before releasing the vehicle to an authorized representative.
Exceptions for Lienholders
There are exceptions to the registered owner requirement when it comes to releasing a car from impound to a non-registered owner in Texas. If the vehicle is subject to a lien or is in the process of being repossessed by a lienholder, the impound lot may release the vehicle to the lienholder without the consent of the registered owner.
This is because the lienholder has a legal interest in the vehicle and may need to take possession of it to satisfy the debt owed. However, it is important to note that the lienholder must provide proper documentation and proof of their legal interest in the vehicle in order to have it released from impound.
For more information on the specific laws and requirements for releasing a car from impound to a non-registered owner in Texas, it is recommended to consult the official Texas Department of Motor Vehicles website at www.txdmv.gov.
Steps for Non-Owners to Release an Impounded Car
Provide Documentation Proving Ownership
When a car is impounded in Texas, it is typically released to the registered owner. However, there are circumstances where a non-owner may need to release an impounded car. In such cases, it is crucial to provide documentation that proves ownership of the vehicle.
This documentation may include the bill of sale, title, or any other legal document that establishes your ownership of the vehicle. It is important to gather all the necessary paperwork before proceeding with the release process.
Obtain Power of Attorney
If you are unable to personally appear to release the impounded car, you can appoint someone else to do it on your behalf. In this case, you will need to obtain a power of attorney document, granting the designated person the authority to act on your behalf.
The power of attorney should specifically state that the person has the power to release the impounded vehicle. This document should be notarized to ensure its validity.
Pay Fees and Fines
Before the impounded car can be released, all outstanding fees and fines must be paid. These fees may include towing charges, storage fees, and any other penalties associated with the impoundment. It is important to contact the impound lot or the relevant authorities to determine the exact amount that needs to be paid.
Once the fees are settled, you will be provided with the necessary paperwork to release the impounded car.
Releasing an impounded car to a non-registered owner in Texas requires following a few specific steps. By providing the required documentation, obtaining a power of attorney if necessary, and paying the applicable fees and fines, you can successfully release the impounded car.
It is always recommended to consult the official Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation website for the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding the release process.
Avoiding Impounds for Non-Registered Owners
Being a non-registered owner of a vehicle in Texas can present certain challenges, especially when it comes to dealing with impounds. However, there are steps you can take to avoid finding yourself in such a situation.
By following these strategies, you can ensure that your vehicle remains safe and in your possession.
Register the Vehicle
The first and most important step in avoiding impounds is to register your vehicle. Registering your vehicle with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is not only a legal requirement but also helps establish ownership and prevent your car from being impounded.
Make sure to keep your registration documents up to date and display your license plates prominently on your vehicle.
Grant Power of Attorney Pre-Emptively
If you anticipate any situations where you might not be able to handle the registration and impound-related matters personally, it is advisable to grant someone power of attorney. By doing so, you authorize them to act on your behalf, allowing them to deal with any impound-related issues that may arise.
This can be particularly useful if you are out of town or unable to address the matter yourself.
Avoid Parking Violations
Parking violations are one of the most common reasons why vehicles get impounded. To avoid this, always ensure that you are parking your vehicle legally and in designated areas. Be mindful of parking signs, time restrictions, and any other parking regulations in the area where you leave your vehicle.
By following these rules, you can significantly reduce the risk of your vehicle being impounded.
It’s important to note that impound laws and regulations can vary depending on the state and local jurisdiction. Therefore, it is always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the specific laws and regulations in your area.
For more detailed information, you can visit the official website of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles at https://www.txdmv.gov/.
Other Impound Release Tips
Act Quickly to Minimize Charges
When your car has been impounded, time is of the essence. The longer your vehicle remains in impound, the more you will be charged for storage fees. It is important to act quickly to minimize these charges and retrieve your car as soon as possible.
The impound fees can add up quickly and become a significant financial burden. By acting promptly, you can save yourself from unnecessary expenses.
Bring Appropriate Identification
When you go to release your car from impound, make sure you have all the necessary identification documents with you. This will help streamline the process and avoid any delays. Typically, you will need to provide a valid driver’s license, proof of ownership or registration, and any other documents required by the impound lot.
It is always a good idea to call ahead and confirm the exact requirements to avoid any surprises when you arrive.
Consider Requesting a Tow Hearing
In certain situations, it may be beneficial to request a tow hearing. This is especially true if you believe that your vehicle was wrongfully impounded or if you have evidence to support your claim. A tow hearing allows you to present your case to a hearing officer who will determine whether the impound was justified.
If the hearing officer rules in your favor, you may be able to avoid paying the impound fees altogether. However, it is important to note that this process can be time-consuming and may require additional legal assistance.
For more information on impound release tips and procedures, you can visit the official website of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation at https://www.tdlr.texas.gov/towing/towing.htm.
Getting a non-registered vehicle out of impound in Texas can be challenging but is possible. Being aware of the laws, having proper documentation, and granting power of attorney is key. Whenever possible, register any vehicle you own to avoid impound headaches. But if your car is towed before you can register it, follow our guide to reclaim it properly.