What is an impound? Washington state law is clear on the matter

What is an impound? Washington state law is clear on the matter. An impound “is a written order for a towing company to tow your vehicle.”

There are two types of impounds:

  1. Private impound> means a towing from private property because the vehicle was left illegally “on private property where someone lives” or because the vehicle was illegally  left “on private nonresidential property with a posted warning sign.”
  2. Public impound> means a vehicle was towed from public property. For example, vehicles may have been left “on the public road or the side of it in a dangerous way” or were “illegally parked on the street or in a parking space for people with disabilities without a proper license plate/card/decal.” State law provides other examples, including vehicles left on highways or bearing tags that have been expired for 45 days.

If your vehicle has been towed and impounded, two steps are immediately set in motion — again, according to the clear mandates of Washington state law:

  1. “Within six to twelve hours after the impoundment: Law enforcement gives the towing company your name.”
  2. “Within twenty-four hours of the impoundment: The towing company must mail notice of the towing to both the vehicle’s legal/registered owner (and) the owners of any personal property in the vehicle.”

The law also provides avenues for vehicle owners who feel their vehicle has been improperly towed and impounded. Please consult the laws of the state of Washington and your local municipality for additional details.

Also: Vehicle impounding incurs a daily storage fee. Chappelle’s charges for the initial tow and then for each day it’s on our lot. Both of these fees are determined and regulated by state law.

Impound Services at Chappelle’s Towing

Chappelle’s Towing is a highly experienced towing and impound service. We’ve been in business since 1981, and over that time have built up great professional relationships with many residential and commercial properties that partner with us to remove and impound illegally parked vehicles.

With impounding services, there are several additional legal definitions that towing companies utilize in order to classify vehicle impounds and the methods used to obtain them.

  • Abandoned vehicle: a vehicle impounded by a registered tow truck operator and then held in the operator’s possession for 120 consecutive hours.
  • Immobilized: the use of a locking wheel boot.
  • Abandoned vehicle report: a document that towing operators forward to the state after a vehicle has become abandoned.
  • Impound: to take and hold a vehicle in legal custody. (See public and private impounds above.)
  • Junk vehicle: a vehicle certified under state law as being at least three years old, extensively damaged, inoperable, and with an “approximate fair market value equal only to the approximate value of the scrap in it.”

The Chappelle’s Towing blog has a helpful post containing these and other definitions regarding impounding services.

If you have an impound request or any questions about the process, please don’t hesitate to contact Chappelle’s Towing at 360-696-1710 (Vancouver) or 360-723-5750 (Battle Ground). Chappelle’s Towing also offers a suite of roadside assistance services, and we’re happy to discuss this or any other towing-related topic with you.

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