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California Vehicle Code Section 22655.5

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California Vehicle Code Section 22655.5. reads

A peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, may remove a motor vehicle from the highway or from public or private property within the territorial limits in which the officer may act under the following circumstances:

(a) When any vehicle is found upon a highway or public or private property and a peace officer has probable cause to believe that the vehicle was used as the means of committing a public offense.

(b) When any vehicle is found upon a highway or public or private property and a peace officer has probable cause to believe that the vehicle is itself evidence which tends to show that a crime has been committed or that the vehicle contains evidence, which cannot readily be removed, which tends to show that a crime has been committed.

(c) Notwithstanding Section 3068 of the Civil Code or Section 22851 of this code, no lien shall attach to a vehicle removed under this section unless the vehicle was used by the alleged perpetrator of the crime with the express or implied permission of the owner of the vehicle.

(d) In any prosecution of the crime for which a vehicle was impounded pursuant to this section, the prosecutor may request, and the court may order, the perpetrator of the crime, if convicted, to pay the costs of towing and storage of the vehicle, and any administrative charges imposed pursuant to Section 22850.5.

(e) This section shall become operative on January 1, 1993.

1) Is there any case law that would preclude the use of this section for towing/impounding a vehicle for a public offense as simple as failure to signal or illegal u-turn?

2) If the tow is permissible, who should bear the cost of the tow? (i.e., can an owner of the vehicle be charge for release and storage fees if it is not ordered by the court?)

I need citations to support either side if they are available.




Senior Member
1. Many. Those include driving without license, driving without insurance, expired vehicle license, etc. A lot depends on local laws. 2. The registered vehicle owner will always be responsible for any costs including towing, storage, and security fees. The 9th Circuit court (which covers most of the western U.S.) recently upheld a Seattle law that allows for towing and impoundment of all motor vehicles for 30 days if the operator does not have a valid drivers license. The case was generated by a woman that needed to get to a hospital. She had a neighbor drive her in her car. The driver was pulled over and did not have a valid license. Even though the car owner was in the passenger seat, the vehicle was towed and held for 30 days. The owner sued the city of Seattle and lost.


cvc 22655.5

thank you for your assistance... I am aware of all the other towing sections... 22655.5 is an evidence tow and restriction seem to be much more specific. We are in a debate about 4th ammendment issues re: the seizures...

In the case at hand, can police tow your vehicle for merely failing to signal after they issue you a citation? It would seem that the vehicle was of little if any evidentiary value and was seized to penalize rather than further prosecution... What do you think? Can you be more specific regarding the cases?

Thanks Again...

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