According to Ordinance No. 01-393 and Ordinance No. 03-456 (amending Ordinance No. 01-393) of the City of Federal Way, whenever a driver of a vehicle is arrested for violation of DWLS 1, DWLS 2 OR DWLS 3, NVOL, or for violation of RCW 46.20.345, the vehicle is subject to impoundment at the discretion of an officer of the Federal Way Police Department, by an authorized agent of the department or by a registered tow truck operator acting at the request of an officer or authorized agent of the department.

There may be a mandatory period of impoundment as determined by Federal Way Municipal Court. The length of such period depends on the driver’s driving record (number of prior convictions that the driver may have had in the last five years) and the current charge.

  • Number of convictions for DWLS 3 / NVOL in the past five years:
    • 0 - No mandatory hold
    • 2 or more - 30 days mandatory hold
  • Number of convictions for DWLS 1 / DWLS 2 in the past five years:
    • 0 - 30 days mandatory hold
    • 1 - 60 days mandatory hold
    • 2 or more - 90 days mandatory hold

Hardship Hearings

When a vehicle has a mandatory hold due to prior convictions or current charges, the vehicle cannot be released to the interested party before the mandatory hold is up, and the party must request a hardship hearing in order to get the release. The following persons can petition the court to release the vehicle:

  • The legal or registered owner of the vehicle that has been impounded 
  • The spouse of the driver or the registered owner based on economic or personal hardship 
  • Those who feel that impound is improper because of court or DOL action and do not have valid proof

The registered owner can request another person redeem the car, but both must appear at the hardship hearing. The vehicle may also be released upon petition of the driver where the driver has obtained a valid driver’s license and the driver was the registered owner or has the permission of the registered owner to redeem the vehicle.

Civil Impound Hearings

Any individual that wishes to contest the validity of the impoundment and/or the amount of towing and storage fees may file a civil impound hearing request with the court. This request is pursuant to the provisions of RCW 46.55 and WAC 308-61.

Generally the petitioner will provide the court with the request form already pre-filled by the towing company, the agency authorizing the impound, and the location of impound. The request for hearing must be filed with the court within 10 days of the date that the vehicle was redeemed or attempted to be redeemed. A $73 filing fee must be paid to the court to process the request.

Release Requirements

Only the registered owner, a person with authorization from the registered owner (as long as registered owner is not the defendant) or one who has purchased the vehicle from the registered owner and who produces proof of ownership may redeem an impounded vehicle. A person redeeming a vehicle impounded pursuant to this ordinance must, prior to redemption, establish the following: 

  • Has a valid driver’s license 
  • Has valid insurance 
  • Is responsible for payment of all towing and storage fees to tow company
  • Pay a $100 (cash only) administrative fee to the court
  • Vehicle release form 

If the vehicle was impounded pursuant to ordinance and was being operated by the registered owner when it was impounded, the Municipal Court shall not issue a receipt for release until all penalties and fines owed by the registered owner have been satisfied.

Impound Redemption by Dealers / Lenders

Under RCW 46.55.120(d) a motor vehicle dealer or lender with a perfected security interest in the vehicle may redeem or repossess a vehicle immediately by payment of the costs of removal, towing and storage and the vehicle cannot be held for any mandatory impound period.

Lender or dealer must present a copy of the certificate of title identifying them as a legal owner and a copy of their security agreement documenting their secured lender interest in the vehicle. Vehicle may then be released upon showing of valid license, proof of insurance and payment of $100 (cash only) administrative cost.