San Diego

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Vehicle Impounds and Towing

Vehicles may be impounded or stored for several reasons that are listed below. If you believe your vehicle may have been towed by the City of San Diego, first search AutoReturn online, email service-sd-ca@autoreturn.com, or call (619) 527-4392.  AutoReturn searches for vehicles towed by the City of San Diego only; if unable to locate your vehicle through AutoReturn, call the Police Non-Emergency phone number at (619) 531-2000.

The impound process may take a minimum of three hours. When calling for information, be prepared to provide your name as well as the vehicle license number, make and model. You will be given the name of the towing company, the vehicle location, amount of fees due and payment method. Registered owner identification and driver's license is required to recover the vehicle.

Reasons for Impounding a Vehicle

  • Vehicles found on City of San Diego property having five (5) or more unpaid parking citations/tickets.
  • Vehicles found on City of San Diego property with registration expired over six (6) months.
  • Vehicles stored on City of San Diego property over 72 hours without moving 1/10th of a mile.
  • Vehicles found on City of San Diego property parked in violation of posted temporary or permanent signs.
  • Vehicles found illegally parked on City of San Diego property not displaying any form of valid registration.
  • Vehicles found on City of San Diego property parked in a hazardous manner, impeding the regular flow of traffic.
  • Vehicles found on City of San Diego property blocking a driveway and a complaint is registered.
  • Vehicle parked in a carpool lane.

The Parking Enforcement Offices also recover stolen vehicles. If found, the Parking Enforcement Officer will attempt to call the registered owner for the recovery. If we are unable to contact the registered owner or if the owner takes over 20 minutes to get to the vehicle, the vehicle will be stored at a City of San Diego contracted towing company until the registered owner can recover the vehicle.

For questions or concerns, see the Frequently Asked Questions, or call (866) 470-1308 (toll free).


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