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Unlawfully Impounded Vehicle- Way over my head but moving forward

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CdwJava

Senior Member
JaneyRose, you will need to provide some details. WHO impounded your vehicle and WHY?

If it was law enforcement a city agency, there should be some paperwork on it. What did the paperwork say? Was their an authority code section somewhere? It might be the California Vehicle Code, or a local Municipal Code or county ordinance that authorizes the impound.

Have you gotten the vehicle out of impound, yet?
 

JaneyRose

Member
Hello and thank you for your response. My vehicle was impounded by the Fountain Valley Police Department in Orange County California. I was pulled over because the Police Officer stated I had been illegally parked in a 7-11 convenience store parking lot. I was in the store purchasing a Slurpee drink when I saw the officer enter the store. I had just paid at the cash register when he walked in. I left the store, got into my vehicle and drove out of the parking lot onto the street and he lit me up. I did not see him follow me out of the store.
I had just purchased my vehicle on April 28, 2018 and the stop was on June 18, 2018. I had the "Dealer Notice of Sale" properly displayed on the lower passenger side of my windshield where the State licensed used auto dealer had placed it. It would have been difficult for the officer to miss seeing it when he parked his vehicle and walked into the 7-11. I informed the police officer that my vehicle had not been illegally parked at the 7-11 and he then stated that he "also didn't notice your (my) expired tags until he got behind me on the street". I gestured to the temporary registration document on my windshield and he instructed me to remove it and give it to him. He looked at the document and said he would not acknowledge it as those documents were easy to forge. I called the dealer and he electronically sent to my phone a copy of the vehicles title and California Vehicle Code Section 4456 which covers that particular temporary registration. CVC 4456 states that the Dealers Notice of Sale supersedes any prior registration or license plates for 90 days or until the purchaser receives new plates and registration card from the DMV. I had plates on my vehicle but they were the old plates and had been issued to the previous owner years ago. He said that since I had plates the period of validity of the temporary registration had already expired. He stated I was in violation of CVC 4000 (a) Expired registration and impounded my vehicle under storage authority 22651 (o). He did not cite me for the registration violation but did cite me for Failure to Provide Proof of Financial Responsibility. I had insurance but failed to have the proof with me. I appeared on the ticket and requested it go to trial. The judge thought I was an idiot as it was just a correctible citation but there was something really odd about the entire situation so I requested the officers audio and video recording and some other information during Discovery and spent many hours at the public law library researching the situation and determined that the stop was unlawful as the officers "reasonable suspicion" was based on his "Mistake of Law" as I had not been illegally parked and as a Traffic Sgt. in a City that comprises only nine (9) square miles, it is not unreasonable to expect the Traffic Sgt. to be able to determine if a vehicle is parked in violation of the law or not. I wrote a poor and crude Motion to Suppress the Evidence based on the unlawful stop. I know I could have just brought proof of insurance to the court and paid a small administrative fee but like I stated, the whole thing was very odd and since I was not cited for the Registration, I wanted the impounding of my vehicle to go on the record. My Motion was denied as I failed to provide a declaration with my Motion as I thought a declaration was only required by the opposing party and not the moving party but the ticket was dismissed by the court "in the interest of justice".
No, I did not retrieve my vehicle or the property in it. I had purchased the vehicle on April 28, 2018 with a third of the purchase price down, made a May payment and was to pay the balance plus tax and registration on June 20, 2018 and would then receive the title. The vehicle was impounded on June 18. I had gone to the police department twice and had called within the first week, trying to speak with a Watch Commander or Lt. but was repeatedly told that the only person that I could speak to regarding the impounding of my vehicle was the officer who impounded the vehicle. I did not consider him to be an impartial tribunal so I filed a claim with the City Clerk and it was denied. I am medically retired from the University California Irvine and receive a small retirement pension and also S.D.I. I was in a catch-22 as to being able to pay off the vehicle so I could have the title in hand and paying the storage, impound and release fees. On June 22 the storage and impound fees were already $540. The tow company had tacked on a ludicrous fee for having to stand-by on the scene for over an hour. The stop was initiated at 1442 hours. Units cleared at 1536 hours and the Dispatch log shows the tow was requested at 1453 so I do not know why they were standing by for an hour. The duration of the stop was excessive at 54 minutes but the truck would have had to have been there before the stop was initiated in order to charge an additional $150 for an hour of stand-by time. I did not have the money to get my vehicle released and as the circumstances were so weird, I was afraid to go to the tow yard and retrieve the property that was in my vehicle. I lost everything. I am now preparing a 42 U.S.C. 1983 complaint for Federal Court with the help of copies I made from the Binder books at the Pubic Law Library but it is difficult and I am way over my head but I have to wonder how many other people have they messed with? I have to take a stand against this injustice or else I am condoning the officers actions. I am 55 years old. Have lived in the City of Fountain valley for over 45 years. I have held a California Drivers License since 1979 and have never been cited or had an at fault accident. I have never been arrested so have never been on probation or parole. I have received a few street sweeping tickets but that is the extent of my criminal history. Of course I paid the tickets on time and they did not go delinquent. I am a little fearful taking on the local police department but I am more afraid of what will become if people do not stand up and demand that their constitutional rights be protected. Sorry about the emotional end to this post but I am 100% right and I am not backing down on this one.
 

CdwJava

Senior Member
I had just purchased my vehicle on April 28, 2018 and the stop was on June 18, 2018. I had the "Dealer Notice of Sale" properly displayed on the lower passenger side of my windshield where the State licensed used auto dealer had placed it. It would have been difficult for the officer to miss seeing it when he parked his vehicle and walked into the 7-11.
Seeing a white piece of paper in the window does not exempt it from registration violations, nor is it sufficient to prevent being detained (stopped) for such a violation.

I informed the police officer that my vehicle had not been illegally parked at the 7-11 and he then stated that he "also didn't notice your (my) expired tags until he got behind me on the street".
Not sure what the parking issue might have been unless you were in a handicapped spot or a fire lane since most CVCs do not apply to parking lots. But, it doesn't matter since when he got behind you he saw the expired registration - THAT was sufficient for the stop.

He stated I was in violation of CVC 4000 (a) Expired registration and impounded my vehicle under storage authority 22651 (o). He did not cite me for the registration violation but did cite me for Failure to Provide Proof of Financial Responsibility.
Well, then, you have a dilemma. The good news is that you should not have been issued the cite solely for the no insurance violation (presumably VC 16028(a)) then this should not have been cites since it has to accompany a cite for another violation. If you went to court you could have fought it on that basis - or showed proof of your insurance at the time of the stop to the court - and got it either dismissed or reduced to a $25 administrative fee.

spent many hours at the public law library researching the situation and determined that the stop was unlawful as the officers "reasonable suspicion" was based on his "Mistake of Law" as I had not been illegally parked
But, you were not stopped for a parking violation, you were stopped for a registration violation. The officer does not need a reason to follow you from the store.

No, I did not retrieve my vehicle or the property in it.
Wow! That was not smart!

The vehicle was impounded on June 18. I had gone to the police department twice and had called within the first week, trying to speak with a Watch Commander or Lt. but was repeatedly told that the only person that I could speak to regarding the impounding of my vehicle was the officer who impounded the vehicle.
If they told you that, then someone mucked up. But, if you failed to ask the right question, then that might explain why you got the runaround. Pursuant to the CVC you had 10 days to request a post storage hearing. If you did not make the request, then you tend to lose out on your opportunity to get it released by the PD.

I am now preparing a 42 U.S.C. 1983 complaint for Federal Court
You are seeking to file a federal civil rights lawsuit???? By yourself???? There are so many reasons this is not likely to succeed.

Have you tried, instead, to sue the police department for an unlawful tow? Unless there are some pieces you are leaving out, the vehicle should not have been impounded for VC 22651(o) within 90 days of the purchase if you had the dealer report of sale. This could have been brought up in a post storage hearing - a process you did not avail yourself of. Suing for damages would be a bit less tricky than filing in federal court when the burden of proof will be greater, and the knowledge base required even higher.

What happened when you went to court on the ticket?
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
Have you tried, instead, to sue the police department for an unlawful tow?
In order to sue, the OP would need to have filed a claim within 6 months of the incident. I don't see any indication that s/he did so, therefor, s/he is barred from filing suit.
 

CdwJava

Senior Member
In order to sue, the OP would need to have filed a claim within 6 months of the incident. I don't see any indication that s/he did so, therefor, s/he is barred from filing suit.
There are exceptions. Depending on the value of the car, the matter may be outside of Small Claims and may permit the OP from hiring an attorney who may be able to identify an exception. But, I tend to agree that it is unlikely that a suit can be filed.
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
There are exceptions. Depending on the value of the car, the matter may be outside of Small Claims and may permit the OP from hiring an attorney who may be able to identify an exception. But, I tend to agree that it is unlikely that a suit can be filed.
No. In order to sue the police department, the OP would first have had to file a claim with the police department/municipality within 6 months. If s/he failed to do so, then s/he is barred from filing a suit in any court.

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=GOV&sectionNum=911.2.

ARTICLE 1. General [910 - 913.2]
( Article 1 added by Stats. 1963, Ch. 1715. )


911.2.
(a) A claim relating to a cause of action for death or for injury to person or to personal property or growing crops shall be presented as provided in Article 2 (commencing with Section 915) not later than six months after the accrual of the cause of action. A claim relating to any other cause of action shall be presented as provided in Article 2 (commencing with Section 915) not later than one year after the accrual of the cause of action.
(b) For purposes of determining whether a claim was commenced within the period provided by law, the date the claim was presented to the Department of General Services is one of the following:
(1) The date the claim is submitted with a twenty-five dollar ($25) filing fee.
(2) If a fee waiver is granted, the date the claim was submitted with the affidavit requesting the fee waiver.
(3) If a fee waiver is denied, the date the claim was submitted with the affidavit requesting the fee waiver, provided the filing fee is paid to the department within 10 calendar days of the mailing of the notice of the denial of the fee waiver.
(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 31, Sec. 38. (SB 836) Effective June 27, 2016.)
 

CdwJava

Senior Member
Well, you'd think ... but, there ARE exceptions. As custodian of records, I had to respond to orders related to suits filed well after that 6 month period. Not to mention the fact that I know government entities that had actions initiated long after that time frame - in state court. I cannot say what the exceptions are, but they do exist. I discovered long ago that for every supposed rule, there is almost always an exception.
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
Well, you'd think ... but, there ARE exceptions. As custodian of records, I had to respond to orders related to suits filed well after that 6 month period. Not to mention the fact that I know government entities that had actions initiated long after that time frame - in state court. I cannot say what the exceptions are, but they do exist. I discovered long ago that for every supposed rule, there is almost always an exception.
I agree that there are exceptions, but they don't apply here. In any case, the OP must start with a claim, not just head to court.
 

CdwJava

Senior Member
I agree that there are exceptions, but they don't apply here. In any case, the OP must start with a claim, not just head to court.
Since the OP has taken no steps to pursue any part of due process, most any avenue they seek may be shut down to them as a result - including a lawsuit (after they were to make a claim ... which is likely too late, anyway).

I'm still curious as to what happened to the ticket they went to court on.
 

JaneyRose

Member
The citation was dismissed in the interest of justice- The officers audio recording was very enlightening. I got the recording during Discovery, Yes, I am filing in federal court myself. I would rather try and fail then not try at all.
 

JaneyRose

Member
In order to sue, the OP would need to have filed a claim within 6 months of the incident. I don't see any indication that s/he did so, therefor, s/he is barred from filing suit.
I filed a claim with the city 10 days after the occurrence. I filed a second and revised claim with the city just a few days before the 6 month deadline. I hand delivered it and had the City Clerk sign for it. I haven't got any response yet. I delivered it on January 3.
 

JaneyRose

Member
Thank you for your replies. I enjoy reading them despite the fact that it reinforces my awareness of being way out of my league. I believe the city had 20 days to inform me if there was a problem with my claim and then 40 days to deny or respond to the claim. Am I correct?
 

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