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All about Impounds...everything you'll ever need to know about Vehicle Impoundment! (if you just want to get your car back, skip to here )

Impound: To seize and retain in legal custody. (You probably already knew that part.)

There are two kinds of impounds in Alaska:  Law Enforcement Impounds, and Private Property Impounds, or PPIs, sometimes called Private Party Impounds. Both are also called Non-consensual Towing.

Law Enforcement Impounds
are those impounds ordered by a law enforcement officer.  Around Fairbanks, this could mean the Fairbanks City Police, North Pole Police, the Alaska State Troopers, Airport Police, or University of Alaska Police.

  • If your vehicle was impounded by Fairbanks City Police, you must contact the City Attorney's office for information concerning your vehicle.  The City maintains and manages it's own impound lot.
  • If your vehicle was seized for investigation, the agency ordering the seizure will have custody of your vehicle. Vehicles are sometimes seized for searching during investigations.
  • However, vehicles will sometimes be impounded by an officer.  Some reasons for impoundment include lack of insurance, a DUI, to secure the vehicle after a wreck involving injuries, because the officer considers the vehicle to be a public hazard, or to secure the vehicle if the driver is arrested.  These impounded vehicles will be towed and secured by private towing companies.  These private companies must meet certain criteria to perform impounds for law enforcement agencies.

Private Property Impounds are vehicles impounded at the request of private individuals.  In Alaska, it is illegal to park a vehicle on private property without permission.  Period. 

Alaska law provides for private party impoundment as a remedy for illegal parking.  Police can not involve themselves in private parking issues, nor can they write tickets for illegally parking on private property.  Impoundment is a property owner's only recourse for removing unwanted vehicles from their driveways or parking areas.

Private property and parking laws are often misunderstood, but in a nutshell, your vehicle can be impounded by a property owner or their agent if:

  • You park your vehicle on any person's private property without permission, or in a handicap space, and leave your vehicle for even a minute.
  • You park in a manner that obstructs a fire lane, dumpsters, or an access point.
  • You park your vehicle at night in a "public" parking lot not designated for overnight parking. 
  • You park your vehicle in any marked parking space in a "public" lot that you do not specifically have rights to, such as in employee parking at an office building, or a "reserved" space at the gym, or a numbered tenant parking space at an apartment complex.
  • You park your vehicle in any parking lot posted as private, or for paid parking only, without permission.
  • You park or leave your vehicle for more than 48 hours anywhere you don't have permission. (this is considered abandoning a vehicle, and is unlawful in Alaska.) This includes the side of the road.

Remember, "Public" parking lots are rarely public property--some business or entity owns them, which makes them technically private.  Although many lots post parking notices, they are not required to do so.
 
The bottom line:  If you don't have clear permission to park somewhere, you risk having your vehicle impounded at the request of the property owner! 

Here's the worst part: Not only can your car get towed away, it will be very expensive to get it back.  In most cases, your towing insurance won't cover the fees.   So be careful where you park your car!

What happens to impounded cars? Regardless of whether a vehicle is impounded by law enforcement or a private business, if can usually redeemed by the owner for a fee.  If not redeemed, it will be disposed of, along with it's contents, after undergoing proper legal processes.  By law, impounded vehicles must be offered for sale through a public auto auction or other sale, or disposed. 

Badger Towing sells vehicles impounded in the Fairbanks area via public auto auction advertised on this web page.  Any auto auction or towing auction is likely to include impounded cars. 

Find out more:

                             Badger Towing performs Impounds
                          If you need a vehicle towed from your property,
                          Or, you think we may have impounded your vehicle
                             call 457-4357 (457-HELP)
                                               
                                                   A proud member of the Alaska Towing Association