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e-CFR data is current as of January 25, 2021

Title 32Subtitle AChapter VSubchapter IPart 634 → Subpart F

Title 32: National Defense

Subpart F—Impounding Privately Owned Vehicles

§634.48   General.
§634.49   Standards for impoundment.
§634.50   Towing and storage.
§634.51   Procedures for impoundment.
§634.52   Search incident to impoundment based on criminal activity.
§634.53   Disposition of vehicles after impoundment.

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§634.48   General.

This subpart provides the standards and procedures for law enforcement personnel when towing, inventorying, searching, impounding, and disposing of POVs. This policy is based on:

(a) The interests of the Services and DLA in crime prevention, traffic safety, and the orderly flow of vehicle traffic movement.

(b) The vehicle owner's constitutional rights to due process, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, and freedom from deprivation of private property.

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§634.49   Standards for impoundment.

(a) POVs should not be impounded unless the vehicles clearly interfere with ongoing operations or movement of traffic, threaten public safety or convenience, are involved in criminal activity, contain evidence of criminal activity, or are stolen or abandoned.

(b) The impoundment of a POV would be inappropriate when reasonable alternatives to impoundment exist.

(1) Attempts should be made to locate the owner of the POV and have the vehicle removed.

(2) The vehicle may be moved a short distance to a legal parking area and temporarily secured until the owner is found.

(3) Another responsible person may be allowed to drive or tow the POV with permission from the owner, operator, or person empowered to control the vehicle. In this case, the owner, operator, or person empowered to control the vehicle will be informed that law enforcement personnel are not responsible for safeguarding the POV.

(c) Impounding of POVs is justified when any of the following conditions exist:

(1) The POV is illegally parked—

(i) On a street or bridge, in a tunnel, or is double parked, and interferes with the orderly flow of traffic.

(ii) On a sidewalk, within an intersection, on a cross-walk, on a railroad track, in a fire lane, or is blocking a driveway, so that the vehicle interferes with operations or creates a safety hazard to other roadway users or the general public. An example would be a vehicle parked within 15 feet of a fire hydrant or blocking a properly marked driveway of a fire station or aircraft-alert crew facility.

(iii) When blocking an emergency exit door of any public place (installation theater, club, dining hall, hospital, and other facility).

(iv) In a “tow-away” zone that is so marked with proper signs.

(2) The POV interferes with—

(i) Street cleaning or snow removal operations and attempts to contact the owner have been unsuccessful.

(ii) Emergency operations during a natural disaster or fire or must be removed from the disaster area during cleanup operations.

(3) The POV has been used in a crime or contains evidence of criminal activity.

(4) The owner or person in charge has been apprehended and is unable or unwilling to arrange for custody or removal.

(5) The POV is mechanically defective and is a menace to others using the public roadways.

(6) The POV is disabled by a traffic incident and the operator is either unavailable or physically incapable of having the vehicle towed to a place of safety for storage or safekeeping.

(7) Law enforcement personnel reasonably believe the vehicle is abandoned.

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§634.50   Towing and storage.

(a) Impounded POVs may be towed and stored by either the Services and DLA or a contracted wrecker service depending on availability of towing services and the local commander's preference.

(b) The installation commander will designate an enclosed area on the installation that can be secured by lock and key for an impound lot to be used by the military or civilian wrecker service. An approved impoundment area belonging to the contracted wrecker service may also be used provided the area assures adequate accountability and security of towed vehicles. One set of keys to the enclosed area will be maintained by the installation law enforcement officer or designated individual.

(c) Temporary impoundment and towing of POVs for violations of the installation traffic code or involvement in criminal activities will be accomplished under the direct supervision of law enforcement personnel.

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§634.51   Procedures for impoundment.

(a) Unattended POVs. (1) DD Form 2504 (Abandoned Vehicle Notice) will be conspicuously placed on POVs considered unattended. This action will be documented by an entry in the installation law enforcement desk journal or blotter.

(2) The owner will be allowed 3 days from the date the POV is tagged to remove the vehicle before impoundment action is initiated. If the vehicle has not been removed after 3 days, it will be removed by the installation towing service or the contracted wrecker service. If a contracted wrecker service is used, a DD Form 2505 (Abandoned Vehicle Removal Authorization) will be completed and issued to the contractor by the installation law enforcement office.

(3) After the vehicle has been removed, the installation law enforcement officer or the contractor will complete DD Form 2506 (Vehicle Impoundment Report) as a record of the actions taken.

(i) An inventory listing personal property will be done to protect the owner, law enforcement personnel, the contractor, and the commander.

(ii) The contents of a closed container such as a suitcase inside the vehicle need not be inventoried. Such articles should be opened only if necessary to identify the owner of the vehicle or if the container might contain explosives or otherwise present a danger to the public. Merely listing the container and sealing it with security tape will suffice.

(iii) Personal property must be placed in a secure area for safekeeping.

(4) DD Form 2507 (Notice of Vehicle Impoundment) will be forwarded by certified mail to the address of the last known owner of the vehicle to advise the owner of the impoundment action, and request information concerning the owner's intentions pertaining to the disposition of the vehicle.

(b) Stolen POVs or vehicles involved in criminal activity. (1) When the POV is to be held for evidentiary purposes, the vehicle should remain in the custody of the applicable Service or DLA until law enforcement purposes are served.

(2) Recovered stolen POVs will be released to the registered owner, unless held for evidentiary purposes, or to the law enforcement agency reporting the vehicle stolen, as appropriate.

(3) A POV held on request of other authorities will be retained in the custody of the applicable Service or DLA until the vehicle can be released to such authorities.

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§634.52   Search incident to impoundment based on criminal activity.

Search of a POV in conjunction with impoundment based on criminal activity will likely occur in one of the following general situations:

(a) The owner or operator is not present. This situation could arise during traffic and crime-related impoundments and abandoned vehicle seizures. A property search related to an investigation of criminal activity should not be conducted without search authority unless the item to be seized is in plain view or is readily discernible on the outside as evidence of criminal activity. When in doubt, proper search authority should be obtained before searching.

(b) The owner or operator is present. This situation can occur during either a traffic or criminal incident, or if the operator is apprehended for a crime or serious traffic violation and sufficient probable cause exists to seize the vehicle. This situation could also arise during cases of intoxicated driving or traffic accidents in which the operator is present but incapacitated or otherwise unable to make adequate arrangements to safeguard the vehicle. If danger exists to the police or public or if there is risk of loss or destruction of evidence, an investigative type search of the vehicle may be conducted without search authority. (Air Force, see AFP 125-2).

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§634.53   Disposition of vehicles after impoundment.

(a) If a POV is impounded for evidentiary purposes, the vehicle can be held for as long as the evidentiary or law enforcement purpose exists. The vehicle must then be returned to the owner without delay unless directed otherwise by competent authority.

(b) If the vehicle is unclaimed after 120 days from the date notification was mailed to the last known owner or the owner released the vehicle by properly completing DD Form 2505, the vehicle will be disposed of by one of the following procedures:

(1) Release to the lienholder, if known.

(2) Processed as abandoned property in accordance with DOD 4160.21-M.

(i) Property may not be disposed of until diligent effort has been made to find the owner; or the heirs, next of kin, or legal representative of the owner.

(ii) The diligent effort to find one of those mentioned in paragraph (a) of this section shall begin not later than 7 days after the date on which the property comes into custody or control of the law enforcement agency.

(iii) The period for which this effort is continued may not exceed 45 days.

(iv) If the owner or those mentioned in §634.52 are determined, but not found, the property may not be disposed of until the expiration of 45 days after the date when notice, giving the time and place of the intended sale or other disposition, has been sent by certified or registered mail to that person at his last known address.

(v) When diligent effort to determine those mentioned in paragraph (b)(2)(iv) of this section is unsuccessful, the property may be disposed of without delay, except that if it has a fair market value of more than $500, the law enforcement official may not dispose of the property until 45 days after the date it is received at the storage point.

(c) All contracts for the disposal of abandoned vehicles must comply with 10 U.S.C. 2575.

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