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Towing Information Resource Page

To lookup the status of a towed vehicle, and find out how to recover it, contact:

SJPD Vehicle Records Assistance Line (Auto Desk) at (408) 277-4263.

This line be answered 24/7 except between the hours of 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. 
Have your case number, vehicle license plate or VIN number ready.

You can also visit the Auto Desk in person:

201 W. Mission Street, San Jose, CA 95110

Auto Desk hours of operation: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Every Day


If your vehicle was towed / impounded in San Jose, read the following information, or call SJPD's Vehicle Records Unit to hear this information in a recorded message at (408) 277-4156.

The Records Unit also answers questions about vehicles that have been repossessed, stolen or recovered and towed from private property. 

To obtain property from your towed vehicle, contact the tow company directly . This department does not issue property releases.

The SJPD Vehicle Records Unit is located at 201 West Mission Street, near the intersection of San Pedro and Mission Streets in San Jose, California. 

For Vehicle Records Unit hours of operation, please check this link: Vehicle Records Unit


In most cases you must obtain a vehicle release from the Police Department before the tow company will release the car to you. Contact the Auto Desk to find out if a release will be required for your vehicle.


In order to get a vehicle release the following conditions must be met:

  • You must be the registered or legal owner of the vehicle.
  • The vehicle must be currently registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
  • You must have a valid driver's license or bring a licensed driver with you.
  • You will need identification for yourself.
  • A vehicle release fee is required.  This fee must be paid in the form of cash, cashier's check or money order, payable to the City of San Jose, or the following credit/debit cards – Visa, Master-card or Discover Card.
    Click here for the current LIST OF FEES
  • Use this link to submit your request for a Vehicle Release online.


Additional tow charges will be required by the tow company.  Click here for the current LIST OF FEES. Tow companies will accept cash, personal check or credit cards as a form of payment. Please contact the tow company for the exact amount of the charges.


If your vehicle was towed because the driver was unlicensed or has a suspended license, the vehicle is subject to being held for 30 days.  If held for 30 days, the vehicle may be released prior to the date of release if the person driving the car at the time of the impound obtains a valid driver's license from DMV.


If you received a “Notice of Stored Vehicle” - but no longer own the vehicle, you must file a Release of Liability form with the DMV.  No contact with the SJPD is necessary.


  • If your vehicle was towed by the authority of the San Jose Police Department, you may request a hearing by the Police Department.
  • If your vehicle was towed by the authority of the San Jose Department of Transportation (DOT), a tow hearing request should be directed to the San Jose DOT.

How to Request a Tow Hearing (San Jose Police Impound Hearing).

The registered or legal owner of the vehicle, or their agent(s) may request a tow hearing (also referred to as an impound hearing).  During a tow hearing, the tow hearing officer will review the information known to the Department at the time of the tow and determine if the tow was authorized per California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 22852.

To request a Tow Hearing at the Police Department, contact:

San Jose Police Department Tow Hearing Unit
201 W, Mission St, San Jose, California 95110
(408) 277-5429, Tow Hearing Officer

  • Requests for a tow hearing may be made in person, by mail, email, or telephone.
  • Requests must be made within 10 days of the date appearing on the Police Department’s notice.
  • An informal hearing will take place within 2 business days of the request, excluding weekends and holidays.
  • If the registered owner or legal owner disagrees with the decision made at the hearing, the decision may be reviewed by the Tow Hearing Sergeant or Supervisor (CVC 22852(e)).

When contacting the Department regarding a tow hearing request, please include the following information:

  • By whose authority was your car towed? (Police, DOT, Private Property)
  • The reason your vehicle was towed
  • The location from which the vehicle was towed

To request a Tow Hearing at the San Jose Department of Transportation, contact:

Department of Transportation – Tow Hearings
200 E. Santa Clara Street, San Jose, CA 95113
(408) 975-3718


CVC Section 22852(f) does not apply to vehicles abated (removed) under the Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Program, pursuant to CVC Sections 22600 to 22668, CVC Section 22710, vehicles impounded for investigation pursuant to CVC Section 22655, or to vehicles removed from private property pursuant to CVC Section 22658.

CVC Section 22852(g) does not apply to abandoned vehicles removed pursuant to CVC Section 22669 that are determined by the public agency to have an estimated value of five hundred dollars ($500) or less. 

COURTESY WARNING (If you see an orange notice affixed to your car, this is what it says.)



This vehicle may be in violation of one or more of the following:

  • A vehicle may not be parked on a public street for more than 72 hours {3 days) without moving (San Jose Municipal Code 11.36..220). The vehicle may be cited and towed under California Vehicle Code section 22651(k) WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE.
  • A vehicle may not be parked in violation of posted rules including being parked for more than 72 hours (3 days) within City owned or operated facilities (California Vehicle Code 21113(a)). The vehicle may be cited and towed under California Vehicle Code section 22669(a) and/or 22651(n) WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE.
  • A vehicle may not be abandoned on a public street or other public property (California Vehicle Code section 22523). A vehicle parked and/or left on a public street or public property that is inoperable or is deemed a hazard is considered abandoned and may be removed IMMEDIATELY.
  • Vehicles may not be driven or parked on a highway, public land, or an off-street parking facility without current registration (California Vehicle Code section 4000a). Vehicles found with a registration expiration date older than six months, and parked or driven on the highway, public land, or an off-street parking facility are subject to IMMEDIATE removal under California Vehicle Code Section 22651(o).

Note: Placement of this warning notice is a courtesy and not required under the California Vehicle Code. The absence or removal of the warning does not invalidate any enforcement action (citation or tow.)


  1. What does this orange warning notice mean?
    The City of San Jose received a complaint that the vehicle is being stored or has been abandoned on a public street. We investigate every complaint. As a first step in investigating a vehicle, we place a warning notice on it. We will follow up after 72 hours (three days). If the evidence confirms that the vehicle is in fact being stored for more than 72 hours (three days) or is abandoned, it may be ticketed and/or towed.
  2. Do I need to respond to this warning notice?
    No - you DO NOT need to call, write, or email the City in response to the warntng. However, please make sure the vehicle has current registration, is driven every 72 hours (three days), and is in drlvable condition.
  3. How long can a vehicle be parked on the public street?
    A vehicle cannot be parked on the public street for more than 72 hours (three days) without moving (San Jose Municipal Code 11.36.220).
  4. Can I park my car on the public street if the vehicle registration Is expired?
    No, vehicles may not be parked on the public street with an expired registration. The vehicle may be ticketed or towed.
  5. How do I make sure my vehicle will not be towed?
    If you're going to park on a public street, make sure the vehicle doesn't violate any posted parking rules, has current registration on file with the DMV, is in drlvable condition, and is driven every 72 hours (three days)
  6. Will the City always provide a warning notice before towing a vehicle?
    No, the orange warning notice is not required by law and is placed on vehicles as a courtesy.
  7. My car was towed, what do I do?
    Contact the San Jose Police Department's Vehicle Records Unit at 408-277-4156 and be prepared to provide your vehicle license plate number.

For more information Contact the City of San Jose (408) 535-3500 or

OUR MISSION: Create safe places to live, work, and learn through community partnerships. The Department maintains
a commitment to the following values: Integrity, Courage, Excellence, Service, Diversity, Innovation, and Respect.