Get your Car out of Impound Without the Registered Owner (3 easy tips)

Recently my car was towed. It happens to the best of us but not very often so most are uncertain what to do. Hopefully answering some of the questions that I had will help you to get your car back sooner and with less of a headache. As I went to pick up my car from the towing yard I brought my registration and a copy of my I.D. which matched the name on the registration.

I wondered along the way, if I could have someone else pick up my towed vehicle on my behalf. Can someone else collect my impounded car?

The owner a vehicle is required to be the individual to retrieve the vehicle from the towing yard. It is possible to have someone else pick up the vehicle on the owners behalf but often requires a notarized “Power of Attorney” authorization. A few other circumstances do not require that the one retrieving the vehicle is the owner.

There are strict regulations that towing companies must follow when releasing an impounded vehicle. One of those is to ensure that the owner, or someone duly authorized by the owner is picking up the vehicle. There are just a few simple steps to authorize someone other than the owner to pick up a towed vehicle.

Someone Else Picking Up My Towed Car

Upon arriving to retrieve a vehicle from a towing yard, the tow company will request the car registration or insurance to verify that the person showing up is the owner of the vehicle.

The general rule of thumb is that the individual listed on the registration must pick up the car from the towing yard in order for the vehicle to be released.

Here are a few secret tips to follow to be able to successfully have someone else pick up your car or get someone else’s car out of impound for them!

Sometimes the Towing Yard Ignores The Rules

Towing companies risk losing their license and other penalties if they release a car to an individual other than the owner, but it happens frequently anyways.

If you must pick up an impounded vehicle for someone else and cannot obtain a notarized authorization and are not the owner of the vehicle then it is still possible. As a spouse or family member you stand a good chance that the towing yard will allow you to take the vehicle.

You may need a few things such as the keys to the vehicle and be able to tell them where the car was towed from to provide them with at least some proof of ownership.

They will take a copy of your license so it infrequent that someone would try to steal a car this way. Partially for this reason some towing yards will be lenient.

Some private towing companies may even announce less strict regulations. A private property towing company may have a rule such as requiring to show proof of ownership. Such as keys to the vehicles, know the make and model and where it was towed from.

If someone other than the owner is attempting to retrieve a vehicle, just go show up to pick it up and perhaps they will not pay attention or will be satisfied with the keys and registration.

Use Insurance Information to get the Towed Vehicle

It is never convenient to pick up a towed car and perhaps you are at work or out of town.

Can my spouse pick up a towed car for me?

Often a spouse will be able to pick up the vehicle without being on the registration since they are probably on the insurance for the vehicle. Sometimes, having proof of ownership with the key to the car, registration, insurance and other information about the car is enough to retrieve the car.

Not to worry if your name is not on the registration, as long as it is on the insurance for the vehicle this will be acceptable!

If your spouses name is not on the registration or the insurance for a vehicle that is impounded, then the spouse may not be able to pick up the car from the tow yard. Contact the tow yard directly first, but you may be required to notarize a written authorization

Notarized Authorization

Most likely the towing yard will insist that the individual to pick up the vehicle have notarized authorization if they are not the legal owner of the vehicle.

This can be done at your local notary location.

It is also possible to do an online notarization if one of the parties is out of town. Check with the towing company to ensure they will accept an online notarization and then you can do this through any reputable notary site such as Click the website link to be directed to an online notarization page in another tab.

An online notarization generally involves the document to be notarized to be sent electronically such as in the form of a pdf which can be signed electronically. The individuals identity is usually verified by answering questions about credit history, and verifying the signer’s identification documents online.

Other Circumstances when Someone Other than the Owner May Pick up an Impounded Vehicle

  • Settling an estate of a deceased person or estate executor – prove with documentation
  • Lein holder – if there is a lien on the vehicle a lien holder can reposses the car even while impounded and you would still be liable for the original towing fees.
  • Sometimes the towing yard does not check and follow their rules like they should

Go for it! Go show up, act like it is your car and if they check or have a complaint when you present your license then inform them that you are the owner’s friend, spouse, cousin, or whatever you really are. They may tell you that you need notarized authorization to release the vehicle but they may be content with the proof of ownership that you can provide such as knowing where the car came from, the name of the owner and have the key to the car.

Can You Steal Your Own Car from a Towing Company?

Stealing your own car from a towing company is considered stealing. It is a crime that holds the consequences that stealing does.

You are probably asking this question based on the thought that since you still “own” your car”, then it would not be illegal to take your own property.

The key takeaway at this point is that the crime would be committed against personal property “possessed” by another, not against personal property “owned” by another.

The impound lot does not own your car now, but they do have possession of your car and have the legal right to hold on to it.

The last thought to deter anyone from attempting to steal their car back, is the charges to the vehicle will not just go away once the car is gone from the lot. Just pay the fine and fight the charges the proper way in court! Click here to check out our extensive article about how to know if you have been towed illegally.

How to I get a car out of impound without registration?

You do not need the physical registration paperwork as long as you are the registered owner and your I.D. indicates such. If the car is not registered, you must register the car or obtain a “moving permit” before the car can be released from the impound lot. The moving permit can be issued to you by the DMV or AAA

What is a Vehicle Moving Permit?

A DMV moving permit is a permit issued to allow a vehicle to be operated on the road before passing emissions test. It is commonly issued to allow you to drive your vehicle to be smog checked with registration expired.

Registration fees must be paid prior to obtaining a moving permit and can be paid at the time of application.

A moving permit is only valid for one day. This is most often used to drive a vehicle to a smog test but can also be useful in the instance of releasing an impounded vehicle that is not registered.

You only need a moving permit to get a smog check if your registration is expired. It is not necessary to get a moving permit to do a smog check if registration is up to date.

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