Everything You Need to Know About Indiana Towing Laws

In Indiana, your vehicle may be towed if it's abandoned, unsafe, or creating a hazard, and you might face steep fines to get it back.
Written by Mary Alice Morris
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
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There are certain circumstances where your car can legally be towed away and impounded in
Indiana
, either by law enforcement or private property owners. Parking on restricted private property, blocking entrances or exits, or driving under the influence are just a few reasons your car may be towed in the Hoosier State.  
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When can police tow a vehicle in Indiana? 

According to the Indiana State Highway Patrol’s standard operating procedure, there are numerous scenarios in which your car could be towed away and impounded at great expense to you. 
Indiana’s
motor vehicle law code
is long and complex, and interspersed throughout is information about non-consent towing practices. But if you’d like to get down to the nitty-gritty of the matter, we’ve pulled the main points out for you on when law enforcement agencies may legally tow your vehicle, and when private property owners can have your car towed away. 
Let’s first take a look at the circumstances when law enforcement may impound your vehicle. This could happen if:
  • Your car is part of a crime scene or is evidence of a crime.
  • The vehicle was
    reported stolen
    and then recovered.
  • A car is in the possession of someone who is not the owner, and the driver can not prove their right to possess the car.
  • A police officer believes the vehicle poses a hazard or threat to the public.
  • The car is parked in violation of state parking statutes.
  • The driver isn’t properly licensed or endorsed.
  • The vehicle isn’t properly
    registered
    or
    plated
    .
  • The car is being operated in an unsafe manner or is in unsafe working condition.
  • The vehicle is parked in a manner that creates a traffic hazard, impedes business operations, or interferes with a private property owner’s property.
It’s a pretty long list, but it doesn’t cover every scenario in which your vehicle might be removed. It also needs some clarification on what constitutes an “abandoned vehicle.”
According to the Indiana Highway Patrol, an abandoned vehicle is one that:
  • Was left illegally on public property.
  • Was left on public property without being moved for 24 hours.
  • Causes a hazard on public property or in any way impedes vehicular or pedestrian traffic.
  • Is parked on public property but has been at least partially dismantled or is inoperable.
  • Has been left on private property without the property owner’s consent for 48 hours. 

How to get your car out of an impound lot in Indiana

Okay, so your car’s been impounded. Now what? You need to get it back! 
However, it’s a little complicated in Indiana, as different jurisdictions and agencies have differing policies on impoundment releases. To get started, you’ll want to contact the law enforcement agency that had your vehicle towed. They should be able to provide release information to you. 
What many cities in Indiana do is provide the car owner with the name, phone number, and address of the impound lot storing the vehicle. You can then contact them to arrange for retrieval, but keep in mind you’ll have to provide proof of ownership, a photo identification, and payment for any fees related to the towing and storage of your car. 
Unfortunately, when your car is towed, the fees can stack up pretty quickly. Here are some of the costs you might encounter when you go to get your vehicle out of impoundment:
  • Towing fees
  • Daily storage fees
  • Administrative fees
  • Drop fee
  • Fuel surcharge
  • After-hours fees,
    lien
    charges, or possible auction fees

When can private property owners tow a vehicle in Indiana?

Indiana gives a lot of freedom to private property owners who wish to have a vehicle removed. Basically, if you’ve parked your car on someone’s property without their permission, it’s considered an abandoned vehicle. That means the property owner can affix a notice to your car, indicating that it will be towed if not removed. 
If your car remains on the property 24 hours after the notice was placed on the vehicle, the property owner can legally have your vehicle towed away and impounded, all at your expense!
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When can your car be towed from a parking lot in Indiana?

Besides being towed for violations of state statutes for things like illegal parking in a handicapped spot or parking in a fire lane, your vehicle can also be removed from parking lots in Indiana in specific circumstances. 
If you park in a way that restricts normal business operations, your car can be towed immediately, regardless of whether or not the parking lot had any signs or notices posted about towing. Otherwise, your car can not be legally impounded from a parking lot unless the lot owner has permanent signs posted in plain view at each of the lot’s entrances and exits. 

What are my rights if my car is towed in Indiana?

Again, because Indiana’s towing regulations vary by jurisdiction and city, your rights and the process to contest an impoundment may vary depending on where you are. That said, there are some state-wide protections for Indiana car owners. These include the following restrictions on towing and impoundment:
  • If your car is towed, it must be made available for the owner to claim it within 60 minutes of being impounded. 
  • Your car can only be towed to a lot within a 15-mile radius of where it was parked. 
  • The towing company may not charge more than $150 for towing or more than $30 per day of storage.
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FAQs

It depends. If your car is parked on public property illegally, it’s immediately considered abandoned. If it’s legally parked on public property, it’s considered abandoned if it hasn’t been moved for more than 24 hours. And if it’s parked on private property without permission, it’s considered abandoned but can not be towed until a warning notice has been affixed to the vehicle for at least 24 hours.
Possibly, but you can avoid towing and impoundment if you’re able to give consent for another party, such as a friend or relative, to take possession of your vehicle at the scene of the alleged crime. If the vehicle is safely parked on public property, you can give consent for your vehicle to remain there during your arrest. If it’s on private property, the property owner may give consent for you to leave your vehicle there. But if they decline to, then it will be towed.
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