Towed Vehicle Information

Do you think your car has been towed?

Your car may be towed by the San Francisco Police Department for any one of many reasons. It may be parked illegally or appear to be abandoned. The registration may have expired, or parking tickets gone unpaid or it may have been involved in a crime. Your car may also be towed if it has been in an accident or if police determine it is unsafe to drive or if your driver’s license has expired.

To find out if your car has been towed

The majority of cars towed in San Francisco have been parked illegally or abandoned. These tows are managed by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. If you think your car was towed for a parking issue, call the City and County of San Francisco Impound, at 1-415-865-8200 or click here to look for the car online.  You will need to provide your license plate number, vehicle description, suspected tow date and location.

Note: If you cannot confirm your vehicle has been towed, it may have been stolen.  To report a stolen vehicle, call the SFPD at 1-415-553-0123.

What if your car has been towed for other reasons?

The SFPD may have ordered a tow because the vehicle was creating a hazard or involved in a crime or your license has expired. In that case the officer involved may already have given you information on how to retrieve it. If you need more information, call the City and County of San Francisco Impound, at 1-415-865-8200.

Do you need to report a car that should be towed?

Is a car blocking your driveway or the sidewalk? Have you noticed a car parked in one place for more than 72 hours? Call 3-1-1 to report it.

If your car has been towed, how can you get it back?

Vehicles towed by the SFPD for parking violations, non-injury collisions, or recovered stolen vehicles can be retrieved immediately at the City and County of San Francisco Impound. Vehicle owners must first obtain a release form from the SFPD. In most cases, the legal owner of the vehicle can obtain the form by bringing his or her driver’s license and proof of ownership to the nearest police station, where an officer will verify the information. The owner may then pick up the vehicle at:

The City and County of San Francisco Impound
450 7th Street (between Harrison St. and Bryant St., around the corner from the Hall of Justice)
San Francisco, CA 94103
1-415-865-8200

Click here for information on towing fees.

What if your car was towed for a more serious reason?

If your car was towed because the driver was unlicensed or had a suspended license, you will need to go to 850 Bryant Street, Room 154 for a vehicle release.

If you are the registered owner of the vehicle but were not driving it when the tow was ordered, you may be able to get back your vehicle by requesting a tow hearing. In-person tow hearings are conducted without need of appointments Monday through Friday, from 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM, at:

The Hall of Justice
850 Bryant Street, Room 154
San Francisco, CA 94103

Make sure to bring your driver’s license and proof of insurance. To avoid delays, do not change the vehicle’s registration to another person’s name.

The SFPD will charge an administrative fee of $194 for all vehicles towed incident to an arrest and pursuant to Sections 22651(h), 22651(p), 22655.5 of the Vehicle Code.  This is separate from any towing and storage fees that will be charged by the City and County of San Francisco Impound.

What if your car was towed in connection with a criminal investigation?

If your vehicle was towed because of an ongoing criminal investigation, the investigating sergeant must remove any holds on the vehicle before you can get it back. After the hold is removed, you will need to get a vehicle release form by going to Room 154 at 850 Bryant Street.

What if you want to appeal a towing fee?

As the owner of a towed car, you may request a hearing to determine the validity of the tow. You must do so by mail or in person within 10 days of the tow.

To request a hearing by mail, download the Request for Tow Hearing, available here and mail it to:

SFPD Traffic Company 2345 3rd Street
San Francisco, CA 94158

Please include any documents you would like the tow hearing officer to consider.

In-person tow hearings are conducted without need of appointments Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM at:

The Hall of Justice
850 Bryant Street, Room 154 San Francisco

The tow hearing officer will determine whether the towing of your vehicle was lawfully conducted under the California Vehicle Code. If the tow was improper, you will be granted a waiver or refund. Financial hardship is not a valid reason for appeal. The only issue heard is the legality of the tow.

If the hearing officers determine the SFPD tow was improper and the vehicle has already been retrieved from the impound lot, the matter will be referred to the SFMTA for a refund.  

If you require further assistance, you may file a claim against the City and County of San Francisco. For more information about filing a claim, please visit the Office of the City Attorney.  https://www.sfcityattorney.org/claims/

If your car was towed by SFMTA:

Visit the SFMTA website for further information on their appeal process or contact them at:

SFMTA Customer Service Center

11 South Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94103
1-415-701-5400

Find more Frequently Asked Questions about Your Vehicle Towing Rights.

San Francisco Police Department

Safety with Respect for All.