Fresno PD streamlines vehicle impound rules

FRESNO, Calif.

Starting Tuesday, you no longer have to go to police headquarters to pay your fees first, before picking up your car. Now, you can go straight to the tow yard, pay up, and drive out, in one single step.

The police department says it'll be more convenient for you, but tow truck operators Action News talked with say the burden has now been shifted to them.

Ed Mason of Bauer Auto Wrecking and Tow in Southwest Fresno is the owner of one of 39 tow companies that recently signed a three year contract with the city, to take over the responsibility of impounds.

Mason said "Some people had to buy new facilities because they were in places that couldn't have towing and storage."

Mason is concerned the change in impound policies will hurt his bottom line, because along with it, the fee structure has also changed. "Probably about 30% of all cars don't get picked up and under this new system, the tow companies are going to be responsible for the tow fees to the city, even if the car doesn't get picked up."

Under the old policy, drivers paid $294 to get their cars released, no matter the reason. That number has now dropped to $116 if the car was parked illegally or was abandoned, $189 if the driver is unlicensed or has expired registration and $266 if he or she is arrested or is driving on a suspended license. The only fee that has gone up is for a DUI driver, from $294 to $450.

Captain Andy Hall said, "The problem is because of staffing, we had to reduce the hours, shut down all of our substations so now you have to wait in line almost two hours just in PD, and then go to the tow yard."

Captain Andy Hall says the new changes will reduce wait times and make it more convenient for drivers to get their cars.

Mason added, "We implemented new software that will allow us from the minute the officer calls for the tow to start tracking that vehicle."

Drivers can also log onto to find their vehicle and then call the tow company to determine how much they owe. It's important to note that these fees are the city's fees. The tow companies also charge about $180 for the tow and $40 a day for storage.

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