Impoundment of Vehicles (Chapter 46.55 RCW)
Law enforcement officers are authorized to impound vehicles under circumstances set out in state law. This page provides examples of local impound enforcement provisions. The Legislature amended the statutes in 2011 including providing for a mandatory 12-hour impoundment when a driver is arrested for DUI (there are some exceptions); see RCW 46.55.350 through .370.
Some jurisdictions adopt the provisions of Ch. 46.55 RCW by reference or have adopted the Model Traffic Ordinance (MTO)which includes those provisions. Others basically restate the provisions in local ordinances and often include detailed provisions, such as those of RCW 46.55.113(g) with a list of parking restrictions subject to towing. Under RCW 46.55.240, a city, town, or county may, by ordinance, authorize other impound situations that may arise locally upon the public right-of-way or other publicly owned or controlled property. A few jurisdictions have added a provision to impound vehicles for unpaid parking fines. Most jurisdictions have adopted the MTO. Cities, towns, and counties should carefully review the MTO before adopting or amending supplemental vehicle impoundment provisions.
- Laws of 2011, Ch. 167 - Driving Under the Influence--Vehicle Impoundment - Note the amendment provides for a mandatory 12-hour impoundment in certain situations
- Ch. 46.55 RCW - Towing and Impoundment
- Ch. 308-61 WAC - Unauthorized and Abandoned Vehicles
- WAC 308-330-406 (Model Traffic Ordinance) - RCW sections adopted -- Abandoned, unauthorized, and junk vehicle tow truck operators
General Impound Ordinances
The following ordinances provide examples of general local impound regulations; these examples, however, may not have been amended since passage of Laws of 2011, Ch. 167 and thus may not reflect all current statutory requirements governing the impound of vehicles by police officers set out by RCW 46.55.113.
- Bainbridge Island Municipal Code Ch. 10.32 - Impoundment of Vehicles
- Fife Municipal Code Sec. 10.04.090 through 10.04.320 - Administration and Enforcement - Impoundment
- Fircrest Ordinance No. 1511 () - Provides for the impoundment of vehicles when the driver is arrested for violation of RCW 46.61.502 or 46.61.504, passed 08/2011
- Lewis County Code Ch. 10.30 - Vehicle Impoundment and Redemption
- Seattle Municipal Code Ch. 11.30 - Impounding
- Sunnyside Ordinance No. 2011-17 () - Adopts standards in accordance with Ch. 46.55 RCWamends Ch. 10.04 regarding vehicle impoundment, passed 10/2011
Impoundment of Vehicles - Drivers with Suspended or Revoked Licenses (RCW 46.55.113)
The following ordinances provide examples of local impound regulations under RCW 46.55.113. These examples, however, may not have been amended since passage of Laws of 2011, Ch. 167 and thus may not reflect all current statutory requirements governing the impound of vehicles by police officers set out by RCW 46.55.113.
- Bellevue Ordinance No. 5109, passed 12/1998
- Island County Code Sec. 10.06.060 - Impoundment of Vehicles Driven by Suspended/Revoked Drivers
- Marysville Municipal Code Sec. 11.04.100 - Impoundment of vehicle where driver is arrested for violation of RCW 46.20.005, 46.20.015, 46.20.342, 46.20.420, 46.61.502, 46.61.504 – Period of impoundment
- Ordinance No. 119180 - Before being amended by Ordinance 121483 in 2004
- Ordinance No. 121483 - Relating to the impoundment of vehicles, amending Secs. 11.30.105 and 11.30.120 of the Seattle Municipal Code
- Urban Politics #180, by Councilmember Nick Licata, 05/20/2004 - History and proposed amendment to Seattle's impound law
- Council Committee Votes to Eliminate Vehicle Impounds for DWLS-3, News Release, 05/18/2004
- Skamania County Code Ch. 10.54 - Impoundment of Vehicles Driven by Suspended/Revoked Drivers