0630.60 Vehicle Disposition and Impoundment

Administrative Rules Adopted by Bureaus Pursuant to Rule Making Authority (ARB)
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0630.60, Vehicle Disposition and Impoundment


  • ORS 133.033, Peace officer community caretaking functions
  • ORS 133.535, Permissible objects of search and seizure
  • ORS Chapter 192.000, Records; Public Reports and Meetings
  • ORS 806.010, Driving uninsured prohibited
  • ORS 807.010, Operating vehicle without driving privileges or in violation of license restrictions
  • ORS 809.720, Impoundment for specified offenses
  • ORS 811.175, Violation driving while suspended or revoked
  • ORS 811.182, Criminal driving while suspended or revoked
  • ORS 813.010, Driving under the influence of intoxicants
  • Portland City Code 14A.30.080, Unlawful Street Takeover and Unlawful Staging of Street Takeover Event
  • Portland City Code 14A.50, Conduct Prohibited on Public Property
  • Portland City Code 14C.10, Police Duties to Inventory Property
  • Portland City Code Chapter 16.30, Towing and Disposition of Vehicles
  • Portland City Code 29.60.060, Nuisance Abatement
  • Portland City Code 3.98, Towing Board of Review
  • Directive 0630.61, Stolen Vehicles
  • Directive 0640.02, Photography and Digital Imaging.
  • Directive 0650.00, Search, Seizures, and Inventories
  • Directive 0900.00, General Reporting Guidelines


  • Abandoned Vehicle: A vehicle left on public property for more than 24 hours that appears to be neglected or deserted by the owner, and for which one or more of the following conditions exist:
    • The vehicle does not have a lawfully affixed, unexpired registration plate, or fails to display current registration.
    • The vehicle appears to be inoperative or disabled.
    • The vehicle appears to be wrecked, partially dismantled, or junked.
  • Administrative Fee: A payment required by the Bureau to release a vehicle from impound.
  • Administrative Release: An electronic document issued by the Records Division to the vehicle’s owner to obtain the vehicle from impound.
  • Courtesy Tow: The removal of a legally parked vehicle for the purpose of clearing an area for special events, film or video projects, construction, or other reasons.
  • Formal Hold: A restriction placed on a towed vehicle by a member, prohibiting the owner from accessing both the towed vehicle and its contents for an indefinite period.
  • Member: Member generally refers to any Portland Police Bureau employee. For this directive, when discussing the authority to seize or impound a vehicle, member refers only to sworn police officers.
  • Owner: For this directive, owner means the vehicle’s registered owner, an authorized agent of the registered owner such as their attorney, the person lawfully in possession or control of the vehicle, or a person who purchased the vehicle from the owner and provides written proof of ownership.
  • Private Request Tow: The removal of a vehicle at an owner’s request.
  • Temporary Hold: A short-term restriction placed on a towed vehicle by a member, prohibiting the owner from accessing both the towed vehicle and its contents. Temporary holds automatically expire after 72 business hours, unless lifted sooner by the initiating member or an investigative unit
  • Vehicle: For this directive, a vehicle means any device that can transport persons or property upon a public highway. This includes recreational vehicles (RVs), which consists of motor homes and accessory RVs.
    • Motor Home: A motor vehicle designed for human occupancy, or a camper on the back of a truck.
    • Accessory RV: A non-motor vehicle designed for human occupancy, such as vacation trailers, fifth-wheel trailers, and campers that are not on the back of a truck. Accessory RVs include vehicles designed for off-road use (4-wheeler, dune buggy, boat).
  • VIN Inspector: A member specifically trained to conduct VIN inspections.


1. Members may seize or impound vehicles when lawful and consistent with this directive. Members shall comply with Portland City Code 14.C.10 and Directive 0650.00, Search, Seizures, and Inventories relating to inventory of persons, vehicles, and property.

2. Members should exercise discretion in impounding vehicles under circumstances that may create undue hardship or risk to the occupants. Such circumstances may include, but are not limited to: the presence of young children, elderly, or disabled persons; vehicles equipped for use by such persons; and vehicles used as homes.


1. Authority to Impound.

1.1. Community Caretaking.

1.1.1. Members may impound a vehicle when motivated primarily by a community caretaking concern presented by the vehicle, rather than any punitive or investigative reason.

1.1.2. Members shall not impound a vehicle for community caretaking if the owner consents to have a lawful driver, who is present, safely move the vehicle to a location that no longer presents a community caretaking concern. Members are not required to wait for such a person to arrive, but may choose to wait at their discretion.

1.1.3. State law or municipal ordinance may authorize police to impound vehicles for certain offenses or circumstances as part of community caretaking. However, state law or municipal ordinance cannot make an otherwise unconstitutional seizure lawful; members should be aware that impounding a vehicle is a seizure that must be found lawful under the Fourth Amendment and the Oregon Constitution.

1.1.4. Examples of Community Caretaking: Public Safety. The vehicle poses an immediate danger to public safety. This includes, but is not limited to, a vehicle that a member reasonably believes, based on the nature, condition, and location of the vehicle, presents an immediate danger to any person. For example, a vehicle the member reasonably believes contains explosives, toxic or dangerous chemicals, or substances that present an immediate danger to any person. Administrative release required. Administrative fee required. Hazard. The vehicle is impeding, or likely to impede, the normal flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic. This includes, but is not limited to, a vehicle blocking a traffic or bicycle lane, private or public driveway, and a vehicle impeding the normal flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic on streets, parking lots, or other premises open to the public. Administrative release required. Administrative fee required. Safekeeping. The vehicle was in possession of a person taken into police custody; the vehicle or vehicle’s contents are exposed to theft or damage; and no other reasonable disposition of the vehicle is available. This includes, but is not limited to, a high-value vehicle or vehicle with high value contents; a vehicle that cannot be secured due to the circumstances, location, design, or condition of the vehicle; or a vehicle in a location that has an increased likelihood of theft or damage. Administrative release required. Administrative fee required. Alarm Disturbance. The vehicle is not equipped with a vehicle alarm that is designed to, and does in fact, cease emitting an intermittent or constant sound after an aggregate time of 3 minutes within a 15 minute period on any public right-of-way or in a public park; and The alarm system disturbs, injures, or endangers, or is likely to disturb, injure, or endanger the peace, quiet, comfort, repose, health, or safety of the public or any person. Administrative release required. Administrative fee required. Possible Stolen Vehicle. The member reasonably believes the vehicle is an unreported stolen vehicle. Members shall make a reasonable effort to contact the registered owner to determine if the vehicle is in fact stolen prior to ordering a tow. Members shall obtain supervisor approval to impound a vehicle as a Possible Stolen Vehicle and document that approval in their investigative report. Administrative release required. No administrative fee. Parking Violations. Members may impound vehicles for other parking violations when impoundment is authorized by city code. A parking citation is required. No administrative release required. No administrative fee required. Impoundment for Certain Offenses. Members may impound vehicles when they have probable cause to believe the driver has committed any of the following offenses: Driving while suspended or revoked in violation of ORS 811.175 or ORS 811.182; Driving while under the influence of intoxicants in violation of ORS 813.010; Operating without driving privileges or in violation of license restrictions in violation of ORS 807.010; or Driving uninsured in violation of ORS 806.010.

1.2. Street Takeover.

1.2.1. Members may, without prior notice, order a motor vehicle towed as evidence of a crime, for community caretaking, or for any other lawful purpose, without respect to the person’s ownership of the motor vehicle, when the peace officer has probable cause to believe the person operating or in possession or control of the motor vehicle has committed the offense of Unlawful Street Takeover or Unlawful Staging of a Street Takeover Event. The owner of a motor vehicle that has been towed under this section may seek the return of the motor vehicle as provided by law.

1.3. Criminal Evidence.

1.3.1. Members may seize a vehicle when a warrant to seize the vehicle exists.

1.3.2. Members may seize a vehicle when the vehicle is on a premises open to the public, or in an area that the officer has lawfully entered, and it is immediately apparent to the member that the vehicle itself may be evidence as defined in ORS 133.535.

1.3.3. Members may seize a vehicle when the member has probable cause to believe that the vehicle contains evidence as defined in ORS 133.535, and exigent circumstances exist, which make it reasonably necessary to seize the vehicle to preserve the evidence or protect it from removal, tampering, or destruction.

1.3.4. If no exigent circumstances exist, the member can arrange for another member(s) to standby with the vehicle until they can obtain a warrant. If exigent circumstances arise while obtaining the warrant, including, but not limited to, persons attempting to access the vehicle, members can deny access or seize the vehicle as evidence in accordance with Directive 0650.00, Search, Seizure, and Inventories.

1.3.5. Members shall consult with a Sergeant before impounding a vehicle that is part of a felony crime scene or known or suspected to contain evidence of a felony.

1.3.6. Members impounding vehicles as evidence of a felony crime or traffic crime involving serious physical injury shall request the vehicle be towed to Rivergate Vehicle Storage (RVS) and shall place a formal hold on the vehicle. Members shall immediately notify the appropriate supervisor of the hold.

1.4. Stolen Vehicle Recovery.

1.4.1. Members shall refer to Directive 0630.61, Stolen Vehicles, for guidance on stolen vehicle recovery procedures.

1.4.2. Recovery of stolen vehicles discovered at a tow lot. Members shall not proceed with stolen vehicle recovery procedures for stolen vehicles discovered at tow lots, unless a supervisor grants an exception. Supervisors may grant exceptions when circumstances merit a member recovering the vehicle (e.g., evidentiary need, known suspect information). Unless a supervisor grants an exception, members dispatched to a tow lot to recover a stolen vehicle shall clear the call with a disposition of “I-Referred/Other Agency Handled." Members shall notify Auto Records of the call to ensure Records clears the vehicle from LEDS/NCIC. Auto Records shall be responsible for notifying owners and reporting agencies of the vehicle’s recovery. Members shall document, in the CAD call, the DPSST number of the member they contacted at Auto Records, when possible.

1.5. Abandoned Vehicles.

1.5.1. Members shall not impound a vehicle solely because the vehicle is abandoned. Members may report abandoned vehicles to PBOT’s Parking Enforcement Division.

1.5.2. Members may impound abandoned vehicles that present additional community caretaking concerns or criminal evidence pursuant to this Directive.

2. Tow Request and Reporting Procedures.

2.1. Requesting a Tow.

2.1.1. Members may request tow service via the MDC, radio service net, or by any Bureau approved tow request procedure.

2.1.2. When requesting a tow, members shall provide the following information, if available: Criminal charge and/or parking violation, if applicable. Reason for the tow. Members should be aware that a hazard reason code imposes an administrative fee for the owner. Vehicle location and specific directions for access, if applicable. Vehicle’s license plate number, VIN, year, make, model, and color. Hold information, if applicable, and investigatory unit responsible for the hold.

2.1.3. Members shall wait at the scene for the tow operator to arrive, other than for parking violations and private request tows. For all other tows, the following apply: Members shall confirm that the tow operator that arrives is from the company dispatched. Tow operators are not required to complete the tow if a member is not present. Tow companies must appear at the scene within 20 minutes on routine requests, or within 25 minutes in peak traffic (0700-0900 and 1500-1900 hours). Tows involving special equipment or large vehicles may require additional time. To file a complaint for late arrival or other reasons, members may complete a primary report documenting the circumstances, and forward the narrative section of the report to the Bureau’s Tow Board representative in the Records Division.

2.1.4. When circumstances allow a vehicle to stay in place, members shall make reasonable efforts to secure the vehicle and document their efforts in a police report. If a member cannot reasonably secure a vehicle, the member shall request a tow for the vehicle for safekeeping pursuant to this Directive.

2.2. Reporting Requirements.

2.2.1. Members shall write a primary police report whenever they seize or impound a vehicle.

2.2.2. Members shall document the reason they seized or impounded the vehicle, and include the name, address, and date of birth of the driver and other parties claiming an interest in the vehicle.

2.2.3. Members shall document the following vehicle information in their report: License plate number and state, VIN, year, make, model, style and body color; and Unique features such as visible damages or markings on the vehicle.

3. Special Circumstance Tows.

3.1. Police Bureau Vehicles.

3.1.1. If a Police Bureau vehicle requires towing services, the member shall request a tow and provide the vehicle’s shop number and reason for the tow in their request.

3.1.2. Members shall obtain a copy of the tow company's receipt, if provided a printed copy, and submit it to the precinct administrator.

3.2. Police, Fire, and Medical Operations.

3.2.1. Members may order towing to facilitate the operations by fire, police, ambulance, or other emergency personnel or vehicles.

3.3. Courtesy Tows.

3.3.1. City permit holders who reserve specific areas for activities such as film production, special events, parades, or similar events may request towing of vehicles parked in the reserved area.

3.3.2. Members may order a courtesy tow on behalf of the permit holder for a vehicle parked in a public right-of-way: To provide safe clearance for special events such as parades, marches, or motorcades; or To provide clear access for areas specifically reserved by City permit.

3.3.3. The supervisor in charge may direct the vehicle be towed to another legal parking space on the public right-of-way, to any storage facility designated by the City.

3.3.4. Towing companies are required to notify Auto Records of the exact location of each towed vehicle upon completion of each tow to prevent vehicles from being mistakenly reported or recorded as stolen.

3.3.5. The costs of towing and storing the vehicle for a period not to exceed 72 hours will be paid by: The City in the case of a tow requested by a City officer or employee, or The permittee in the case of a tow requested by a permittee. The owner of the vehicle may be charged a reasonable storage fee for the storage of the vehicle if the vehicle is towed and stored at a private storage facility and the owner fails to remove the vehicle from the private storage facility within 72 hours after the vehicle was towed.

3.4. Private Request Tows.

3.4.1. Members may order a Private Request Tow on behalf of the owner of a vehicle.

3.4.2. A private request tow is either Non-Preference (the City-contracted tow company tows the vehicle to their tow lot) or Private Preference (the vehicle owner selects the tow company and vehicle destination).

3.4.3. If the vehicle owner is present, but unable to request towing due to injuries or other circumstances, members may request private towing if they reasonably believe the owner would request towing if able.

4. Holds.

4.1. Temporary Holds.

4.1.1. Temporary holds generally apply to VIN Inspection tows. The following guidelines apply to temporary holds: Temporary holds expire 72 hours following placement, excluding weekends and holidays. Members shall request vehicles that require a VIN inspection be towed to a private lot, unless given authorization to tow to RVS by a VIN Inspector. VIN Inspectors may request a vehicle be towed to RVS. If a vehicle is sent to RVS for a VIN Inspection, the member shall annotate in the tow request that they are either a VIN Inspector or they received authorization from a VIN Inspector so that Auto Records can accurately track and document the vehicle’s location. The member ordering the tow shall notify the proper investigative unit and towing company of the temporary hold. If a formal hold has not been placed on a vehicle before the temporary hold expires, Auto Records shall notify the owner of the expiration and that the vehicle may be released. A second temporary hold cannot be placed once the original hold expires.

4.2. Formal Holds.

4.2.1. Members may, if warranted, place a formal hold on an impounded vehicle. VIN inspectors are authorized to place and/or remove formal or temporary holds on towed vehicles they are inspecting.

4.2.2. A formal hold may be placed upon a vehicle being towed, prior to the expiration of a temporary hold, or at any time, as long as the vehicle is still in the possession of the tow company.

4.2.3. Members may have vehicles already towed to a private lot or other facility re-located to RVS any hour of the day, by any shift.

4.2.4. Members placing a formal hold on a vehicle shall notify the appropriate detective or sergeant by the end of the member's shift. If the hold is traffic related, the member shall notify and forward all related reports to the Traffic Investigative Unit (TIU) sergeant by the end of the member's shift.

4.2.5. Auto Records shall facilitate the transfer of a vehicle to RVS if a temporary hold is being changed to a formal hold.

4.2.6. Members shall provide the name and rank of the investigator and any details on a hold in the City’s contracted towing company’s website. The member writing the primary report shall include the reason and purpose of the hold. Holds for detectives must specify which unit is responsible (i.e., detectives/SCU, detectives/robbery detail).

4.3. Asset Forfeiture.

4.3.1. Vehicles impounded for civil forfeiture shall be towed to RVS with a formal hold for the Narcotics and Organized Crime (NOC) supervisor.

4.3.2. Vehicles shall not be towed for civil forfeiture without prior approval from the on-call NOC supervisor.

4.3.3. A civil forfeiture notice shall be issued to all parties associated with the vehicle.

4.4. Formal hold to examine vehicles for fingerprints.

4.4.1. Forensic Evidence Division (FED) may be notified to have a vehicle examined for fingerprints when: A recovered stolen vehicle was used in another crime. There is a known suspect in a stolen vehicle case, and the fingerprints are needed to link the suspect with the vehicle. There is a known suspect in a theft from a vehicle case and the fingerprints are needed to link the suspect with the vehicle. The vehicle is involved in a crime such as rape, robbery, or burglary and the fingerprints are needed to help identify the suspect. Any exceptions to this section must be approved by a supervisor. Members seizing a vehicle for examination by FED shall place a formal evidence hold on the vehicle, contact FED to request processing, and notify the appropriate detective or sergeant as soon as practicable. The member shall also request the vehicle be towed to RVS, and tell the tow operator to place the vehicle out of the weather and to avoid unnecessarily touching the vehicle.

4.4.2. Vehicles are generally not examined for fingerprints when: The vehicle is a recovered stolen and no other crimes are involved. A victim’s vehicle is the subject of a theft and there is no suspect.

4.5. Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Inspection Hold.

4.5.1. Members may place a temporary hold on any vehicle towed within the City of Portland in which the VIN has been removed, defaced, or altered, in order to conduct a VIN inspection.

4.5.2. VIN Inspectors may request the vehicle be towed to RVS for processing purposes.

4.6. Removing formal holds.

4.6.1. The investigative unit responsible for the formal hold is also responsible for removing the hold. The removal can be made by contacting Auto Records.

4.6.2. Investigators shall provide Auto Records with instructions on who the vehicle should be released to (e.g., registered owner) when releasing a hold.


  • Originating Directive Date: 1976
  • Last Revision Signed: 03/31/22
  • Effective Date: 04/30/22
  • Next Review Date:04/30/24

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