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Can the Police Tow My Vehicle?

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red car being towed away by red tow truck

Under New Hampshire law, a police officer may tow and impound your vehicle if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that any of the following are true:

  1. The vehicle was left unattended on a paved toll road, turnpike, or interstate and defense highway for more than 4 hours;
  2. The vehicle was left unattended on any road or right-of-way thereof for more than 24 hours;
  3. The vehicle is obstructing any road or access to the road, is obstructing snow removal or highway maintenance operations, is or will be a menace to traffic if the vehicle is not removed, or is obstructing access to a public building;
  4. The vehicle was left on private property and the owner or legal occupant of the private property complained that the vehicle was obstructing the passage of vehicles from a public street or highway onto the driveway of such private property;
  5. The vehicle was reported stolen, is apparently abandoned, is without proper registration, or is unsafe to be driven;
  6. The owner or custodian of the vehicle is under arrest or otherwise incapacitated, and the vehicle will be a menace to traffic if permitted to remain; or
  7. The vehicle has been left unattended within a state-owned park and ride facility for more than 21 days.

If one of the foregoing is satisfied, the police may tow the vehicle, store it in a reasonable place, and assess all reasonable charges incurred as a result of such removal and storage as a lien against the vehicle. To get the vehicle back and remove the lien against it the owner (or other person lawfully entitled to possession) must pay the towing and storage charges assessed.

If you believe that your car was unlawfully towed and impounded, you can challenge whether there were sufficient grounds for towing and impoundment. To do so, you must first pay the person/entity holding the vehicle the full amount assessed for towing and storage. Second, and within 15 days of the towing and impoundment, you must submit a written request for a hearing. This hearing will be held before the head of the law enforcement agency which employs the police officer towed and impounded the vehicle.

If you believe that the fee charged for towing and impounding the vehicle was unreasonable, you can challenge the reasonableness of the fee charged. To do so, you must first pay the person/entity holding the vehicle the full amount assessed for towing and storage. Second, and within 15 days of the vehicle’s release, you must request in writing a review by the commissioner of safety. The commissioner will then review the claim to determine whether there are sufficient grounds to conduct a hearing for the purpose of determining whether the charge was reasonable. If the commissioner determines that a hearing is necessary, the hearing shall be scheduled within 20 days of the commissioner’s review, at which time the extent of removal and storage fees shall be determined.

Please consult an experience attorney at (603) 288-1403 to see if we can help or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation.