Impounding a vehicle is a warrantless seizure under the Fourth Amendment and there is a judicially recognized exception that allows for it under specific conditions.  What happens when those conditions aren’t met? In this case, the Ninth Circuit found that defendant officers in this 1983 civil suit had failed to provide any justifications for the impounds other than “general arguments that such impounds were justified as a deterrence or penalty.” The court affirmed summary judgment for the plaintiff owner of the vehicle.

Practice Note: Know your department’s impound policy … and follow it!