Frequently Asked Questions

Case Status-Has my property been found?

If your property was found, and if the Detective has a way to contact you he or she will contact you and talk to you about returning the property.

Case Status-I’ve realized there is additional stolen property.

If you have not been contacted by a detective, call 3-1-1 with your case number to update the case and property information over the phone (this includes adding serial numbers and other case information.)

Case Status-Why haven’t I heard from my detective yet?

The case must be submitted through a computerized system that checks for errors and routes the report to the appropriate division. Once the case arrives to the correct division, a supervisor must assign the case to a detective. Once the case is assigned, it is prioritized by the detective. If there is an error in the way the report was written or filed a delay is possible. If the detective is working weekends, nights or hours outside of the time the case was assigned a delay is possible.

Does the Latent Print Section follow some sort of scientific methodology?

The acronym: ACE-V describes the methodology followed by the Latent Print Section in latent print examinations.  The Analysis involves assessment of the latent print impression prior to comparison.  The Comparison step is the visualization of the known print to determine if the features viewed correspond with those seen in the latent print.  In the Evaluation phase, the Analyst assesses the quality and quantity of features observed in the Analysis and Comparison steps and forms a conclusion as to whether the two prints are from the same source.  Verification is the complete and independent examination by another competent Analyst of the two prints, beginning with analysis, and following through the comparison and evaluation phases.

Filing police reports – when should I call 9-1-1?

Residents should call 9-1-1 only for police, fire or medical emergencies. When calling 9-1-1, stay on the line and try to remain calm with your information ready. If you are calling to file a police report, it can be made by calling Teleserve at 3-1-1. If you are calling from an area code other than (512) the number to 3-1-1 is 512-974-2000. To contact a specific police employee or unit call 512-974-5000.

How are allegations of officer misconduct investigated?

Visit the Office of Police Monitor’s Web site.

How are criminal allegations investigated?

Visit the Office of Police Monitor’s Web site and the Austin Police Department's Special Investigation Unit.



How can I find out more about APD?

The Austin Police Department offers a fourteen-week program called the Citizen Police Academy that is designed to give the public a working knowledge of APD. Instruction consists of weekly classes, demonstrations, tours and rides with police officers. If you are interested in registering for the course, contact Senior Police Officer Surei Scanlon at 512-974-9204 or visit the Citizen Police Academy website.

How do I find out information about felony warrants?

If you want to provide APD with a tip about a fugitive or check on felony warrants, call 512-974-5299.

How do I obtain a crash report?

Crash reports are now available through LexisNexis in English and Spanish. They are NOT available on the APD Incident Report Database. Crash reports may also be purchased at the Main Police Headquarters, located at 715 E 8th Street. Report Sales hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. or by mail.

In Person - To obtain a copy of a crash report in person, a case number is required. Citizens may call APD Report Sales at (512) 974-5499 to see if the report is ready before visiting APD.

Blue Form 

This report is completed by a driver involved in a traffic crash when the crash is not investigated by a law enforcement officer, the apparent damage is not $1,000 or more or when the crash did not result in injury or death. Effective Sept. 1, 2017, per the 85th Texas Legislature Senate Bill 312, the Driver’s Crash Reports (Form CR-2) are no longer retained by the Texas Department of Transportation. The drivers involved in a crash not investigated by a police officer should retain this form for their records.

Mail – To obtain a copy of a crash report by mail, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope containing $6 (cash, check or money order) must be mailed to: Austin Police Department Report Sales P.O. Box 689001, Austin, TX 78768.


How do I obtain a police report?

In most cases the public portion of police reports can be obtained from the APD Incident Report Database. Please read the Incident Report Database instructions on how to obtain the report. Make sure to enter the case number exactly how it is shown in the instructions.

For information about purchasing a copy of the public portion of a police report contact the Austin Police Department Report Sales Unit at (512) 974-5499. Reports can be purchased at the Main Police Headquarters, located at 715 E 8th Street. Reports are 10 cents a page and only the public portion is available for purchase from the report sales office. This is the same report that can be obtained from visiting the APD Incident Report Database. Report Sales new hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Access the Public Records Center to submit a public information request as well as retrieve documents regarding your public information request. See quick reference guide.

How do I start a neighborhood watch?

Participation in a neighborhood watch program can help reduce crime in your area.

To be eligible for a neighborhood watch sign, we ask that 50 percent of your neighborhood or block attend one to three meetings where helpful information is shared about personal and property crimes. Tips include how to reduce your chances of being attacked.

Contact your neighborhood association president or your area District Representative Unit (See citywide map of districts) for more information.

How do I take care of traffic tickets?

To take care of traffic tickets or traffic warrants (also city ordinance, red light cameras and parking violations) contact the City of Austin Municipal Court at 512-974-4800 or visit the court's website: Municipal Court. Traffic tickets can be paid over the telephone at 512-974-4640 or via Internet, by mail, or at one of the three court locations.  Municipal Court has different hours than the Police Substations. The substations are open to the public Monday-Friday 8 a.m. - 5p.m. The Downtown Municipal Court is open from 7 a.m. - 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and on Fridays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Issues we refer to District Representatives/Narcotics/Patrol

a. How do I get extra patrol?
b. How do I get patrol while out of town?
Call your District Representative

d. I want something done about all of the drugs in my area.
e. I have information on a drug courier coming through town.
f.  I have information about known drug dealer at a location right now.
Call the Narcotics Hotline at 512-974-8609

g. All previously listed noise issues to patrol.
Request that an officer contact you and follow up with your District Representative Unit.

h. Other code enforcement issues.
Call Code Enforcement at 3-1-1 (Per Code Enforcement’s web page) 

Legal Advice-Child Custody Disputes

Unless there is another violation of a law, or if there is immediate concern for the welfare of a child, an officer will not make an arrest. The officer will document the violation in an offense report.

Legal Advice-Contract Disputes

These are civil matters that only a court can enforce. An officer cannot assist with contract disputes.

Legal Advice-Is this a crime?

When in doubt, contact the District Representative’s office for your area.

Legal Advice-Rental/Tenant Issues

Unless there is some other violation of a law, this is a civil issue that an officer cannot mediate. If the court orders a person removed from a property, a City Marshall will serve the eviction notice. The Constables Office may ask for assistance from the Austin Police Department. Interfering with a court ordered eviction is a violation of the law.

Legal Advice-This ought to be a crime

No city employee can make something illegal. Only your Elected Officials can create new laws and ordinances.

Noise Issues-Barking Dogs

If you need immediate assistance, call 3-1-1.

If a citizen would like to report a noise complaint regarding barking dogs or roosters, they should file a complaint with Municipal Court. The citizen can do this in person by going to the Municipal Court building at 6800 Burleson Road Building 310, Suite 175 Austin, TX 78744. They can also fill out the Citizen Complain Form for noisy animals located at the Municipal Court Website. Once the form is filled out they may bring the form to the Municipal Court, email it or mail the form to P.O. Box 2135, Austin, TX 78768-2135.

If the citizen would like a copy of the procedure on how to file a formal complaint with Municipal Court, they will need to contact the court at 512-974-4800.

An officer is no longer required to be called out to the scene as this is considered a civil matter. The citizen is highly encouraged to file a complaint with the municipal court to get a resolution. However, if the citizen insists on talking to the police, they follow the APD-Non Emergency procedure, calling 3-1-1 or (512) 974-5000.

Noise Issues-Loud people/parties

If you need immediate assistance, call 3-1-1. If the matter can wait, call your District Representative.

Noise Issues-What is the noise ordinance?

The Noise Ordinance is found in Chapter 9-2 of the City of Austin Codes and Ordinances.
It briefly states that a person may not make an unreasonable noise between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 7 a.m. or create a sound or vibration more than 30 feet from a vehicle. The ordinance is here.

Noise Issues-Why didn’t officers do anything?

Officers are required by their Standard Operating Procedures to issue a warning first. If the violation is no longer occurring, the Officer will attempt to identify the suspect and provide that information to the complainant for the filing of charges. In some situations, without a complainant (someone other than the officer willing to make a formal court charge), the Officer cannot take enforcement action.

Obtaining information through open records

Access the Public Records Center to submit a public information request as well as retrieve documents regarding your public information request. 

See quick reference guide here

Parking Issues-Is this allowed?

You cannot park or block a sidewalk, front yard, or side yard.

Parking Issues-Who can I call to get my street parking changed?

Call 3-1-1.

Response Guide - What should community members expect from APD?
  • Patrol officer response to all calls involving an imminent threat to life or property
  • Patrol officer response to all calls involving domestic/family disturbances (verbal or physical), regardless of timeframe including Violations of Protective Orders
  • Community members may submit offense reports via Austin 311 or online via
  • Detectives review all crime reports for investigative leads, and investigate cases with viable leads. If the reports do not have viable investigative leads, detectives will notify the complainant that there are no leads and will suspend the report.
  • Each report will be reviewed with attention given to:
    • The nature and seriousness of the behavior or offense;
    • The reliable and objective evidence available to the responding officer; and
    • Other factors including:
      • Video availability
      • Written sworn testimony of witness
      • Pecuniary loss statement (receipt showing value of item)
Response Guide - When should someone call 911?
  • When there is an imminent threat to life or property
  • When there is an injury that requires immediate medical attention or there is an injury stemming from an assault, regardless of the timeframe
  • When a suspect involved in a crime is on scene of the incident or within sight

Important: If you are unsure whether to call 911 or 311, you should call 911 and let a trained operator route the call appropriately.

Response Guide - When will officers make an on-scene arrest?
  • Many variables factor into the officer’s decision to make an arrest, including:
  • The nature and seriousness of the criminal offense;
  • The reliable and objective evidence available to the responding officer; and
  • Other factors including:
    • Whether the suspect has warrants;
    • Whether the offense is eligible for a citation; and
    • Whether the suspect voluntarily complies with an officer’s attempt to mitigate the situation, if appropriate
Response Guide - Why isn’t an arrest being made?
  • It is important to understand when an officer can make a lawful, warrantless arrest
    • Offense must occur in the officer’s presence or within the officer’s view, unless the offense is a felony
    • For misdemeanor offenses, if the officer can properly identify the individual, cease the conduct, and gain voluntary compliance, issuing a citation is the least intrusive and preferred alternative

*We understand confusion can arise in the public when people call the police in two similar situations, but receive different responses based on factors not visible to the public. The public may not know right away why a person is being arrested. For example, an arrest may occur because of warrants or because they do not meet the qualifications for a field release citation.

  • Camping is a Class “C” misdemeanor. Unless there is an imminent threat to health and safety, the following requirements are necessary prior to issuing a citation:
    • Officer must advise the person of a lawful, alternative place to camp
    • Contact whenever appropriate, a resource or other services that would reduce the likelihood of the person continuing to camp in a public place
Towed Vehicle Information - What is the tow law?

The City Ordinance related to towing can be found at the following Web site under Title 13, Section 6: The Code of the City of Austin, TX.
Additionally, a citizen has the right to request a hearing with the Justice of the Peace contesting the non-consent tow. The Bill of Rights can be found here and a Spanish Version is also available.

Towed Vehicle Information - Where is my vehicle?

(Towed from private property)
At the entrance/exit of a parking lot, red and white signs should be posted with the name and phone number of the tow company for citizens to call and find out exactly where their vehicle is located. They can also visit

(Impounded by the City)
The vehicle was towed visit  For abandoned vehicles visit or call 311.



Towed Vehicle Information - Why was it towed?

The most common reasons for non-consent tows from private property are not having a permit properly displayed, not parking in a designated spot, or parking and leaving the premises without doing business in one of the establishments of the parking lot. Additionally, cars are sometimes repossessed by the lender or impounded for being abandoned or a traffic hazard on the road.

Towed Vehicle Information-How much is it?

Most vehicles redeemed the same day of impoundment will cost around $193.00 ($150.00 towing fee, $20.00 impound fee, $20.00 storage fee, plus tax). Additionally, fees may apply if the vehicle is larger than 10,000 lbs and if a winch is needed to tow it. For all Police Impounds or Non-Preference tow’s from a collision, a $25 admin fee will be applied.  For all other fees or for additional information please refer to the tow fee schedule.

What actions to take when stopped by a police officer?

What should I do when I see flashing lights behind me?

  • If you see flashing lights behind you, you should pull to the right and slow down. When an officer is trying to stop you, you should pull off of the roadway when it is safe and come to a stop. If you are stopped at night, turn your interior dome light on. Limit your movements inside your vehicle until the officer approaches and requests your license and insurance information. Traffic stops are inherently unpredictable in the eyes of an officer and reaching into your glove box or purse as the officer approaches only adds to an already tense situation.

What if I am in a secluded area or want to verify that a real police officer is pulling me over?

  • When you see the lights flashing, slow down and pull to the right and turn your hazard lights on. This will act as an acknowledgement to the officer. If you have a cell phone, call 911 and tell the operator that you want to verify that an officer is trying to stop you. Listen to the operator’s instructions as to what to do next. If you do not have a cell phone, stop in a well lit/well populated area, lock your door, roll your window down an inch and request the officer provide his/her department issued identification card. All Texas peace officers have a department issued id card.  If you believe that a real officer is trying to stop you but you do not want to stop in a dark area, again slow down, pull to the right and activate your hazards. You can continue to drive until you reach the next well lit area.  The important thing in both of these situations is to acknowledge the officer trying to stop you.

What if I am being stopped by an unmarked police car?

  • Acknowledge the officer as described above. Call 911 to verify the officer’s identity or stop in a well lit/well populated area and verify the officer’s id as described above.
What do I do if my phone is stolen?
What if there are no known fingerprints for the person I requested to be compared?

No examination will be conducted in that case.  An email will be sent to the requestor asking that known exemplars be supplied in order for analyses to be performed.  The request will be administratively-closed, and the requestor may resubmit a request when known prints are available.  Requestors should, however, ensure there are exemplars available prior to submitting a request.

What is Terrorism?

Terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government or its citizens to further certain political or social objectives. Law enforcement generally recognizes two types of terrorism: domestic and international. Domestic terrorism is based and executed in the United States by our own citizens without foreign direction. International terrorism, which is connected to foreign governments or groups, transcends our nation’s boundaries. Terrorist acts against U.S. citizens can occur anywhere in the world.

(Source: FBI)

Austin’s Homeland Security would like to tell all citizens if you “See Something, Say Something” if you notice something suspicious or see possible signs of terrorism please report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement.

See Something, Say Something

What is Terrorism? How You Can Help

Austin citizens can play a role in preventing terrorist attacks. Certain activities or behaviors can indicate terrorist planning, especially when these activities occur at or near key facilities such as government, military, utility or other high-profile sites or places where large numbers of people gather. Examples of suspicious activity include:

  • Surveillance—Are you aware of anyone recording or monitoring activities, taking notes, using cameras, maps, binoculars, etc., near a key facility?
  • Suspicious Questioning—Are you aware of anyone attempting to gain information in person, by phone, mail, e-mail, etc., regarding a key facility or its personnel?
  • Tests of Security—Are you aware of any attempts to penetrate or test physical security or procedures at a key facility?
  • Acquiring Supplies—Are you aware of anyone attempting to improperly acquire explosives, weapons, ammunition, dangerous chemicals, uniforms, badges, flight manuals, access cards or identification for a key facility or to legally obtain items under suspicious circumstances that could be used in a terrorist attack?
  • Suspicious Persons—Are you aware of anyone who does not appear to belong in the workplace, neighborhood, business establishment or near a key facility? This does not mean that we should profile individuals, but does mean that we should profile behavior.

What Should You Do?

  • Dry Runs—Have you observed any behavior that appears to be preparation for terrorist activity, such as mapping out routes, playing out scenarios with other people, monitoring key facilities, timing traffic lights or traffic flow, or other suspicious activities?
  • Deploying Assets—Have you observed abandoned vehicles, stockpiling of suspicious materials or persons being deployed near a key facility? (Source: FBI)
  • If you do observe suspicious activity, report it to your local police or sheriff’s office. Or call the Austin Regional Intelligence Center at 512-974-ARIC (2742).

Some guidelines when reporting suspicious activity include:

  • What is happening?
  • Who is doing it?
  • Where is it taking place?
  • When did you observe it?
  • Why are you suspicious?

The “See Something, Say Something” does not promote spying on your neighbor, invading someone’s privacy, or taking the law into your own hands. It does not profile individuals who look, act, dress, or live differently than us. It strictly profiles behavior that may be linked to terrorism.

To Report Suspected Terrorism please call the local Austin office FBI # at Phone: (512) 345-1111 or fax information to (512) 346-5265.

What is the Open Carry Law?

In January 2016, carrying a handgun openly became legal in Texas. This law modified the previous handgun license law by eliminating the requirement that licensed handguns be carried in a concealed manner. This means that somebody with a handgun license may choose to conceal it under clothing or wear it in a holster visible to others. More...

What should I do if I’m involved in a crash?

If you are involved in a minor crash where there are no visible signs of injury to persons involved and the vehicles are drivable then move your vehicle out of the traveled portion of the roadway. Cars left in the road contribute to traffic back-ups, which can cause other crashes. In fact, State law requires that motorists move their cars from freeways. Call the police and exchange driver information.

Where do I get my fingerprints done?

The Austin Police Department DOES NOT provide fingerprinting services at this time. If you require fingerprinting, please visit IdentoGO online at: 

The Austin Police Department DOES NOT provide criminal history checks or “Clearance Letters” for those persons requesting that service. Complete arrest records should be requested from the Texas Department of Public Safety.    

Who do I call to ask about someone who has been arrested?

All information about people in jail can be obtained from calling jail information at 854-9889. The jail is operated by the Travis County Sheriff's Office.

Who is my detective?

Region 1 (map)
Central West – 512-974-5320
North Central – 512-974-5851
Downtown – 512-974-5777

Region 2 (map)
Northeast – 512-974-5491
Northwest – 512-974-6973

Region 3 (map)
Central East – 512-974-4246
South Central – 512-974-6999

Region 4 (map)
Southeast – 512-974-8218
Southwest – 512-974-8221

How long will it take to get my comparison request completed?

This is contingent on the backlog of cases during any given time.  The cases are generally worked in the order received.  Detective requests and violent crimes are given higher priority in most cases.  The Assistant Lab Manager can be contacted to have the request taken out of turn to be worked, if there is an urgent need to do so.

Are property crimes taken seriously? and what is the clearance rate for these types of crimes?

Yes, absolutely. The Crime Scene Section, as well as the entire Forensic Bureau, are staffed by civilian analysts who are committed to providing the best evidence available for every case worked, regardless whether the crime is committed against a person or involves property. Investigating detectives are provided any support assistance necessary in solving crimes. However, the crime clearance statistics fluctuate for a variety of different factors and it would be difficult to give a specific answer to this general a question. The Crime Scene Section strives to help solve as many crimes as possible with the evidence available.

Can you remove your fingerprints?

There have been some that tried, most notably, John Dillinger, the famous bank robber who used acid to ruin the central pattern area of his fingers.  Friction ridges, however, are on the tips and sides of your fingers, as well as the phalangeal areas, the palms of your hands and soles of your feet.  The average adult male would have to strip off about a millimeter of friction ridge skin in order to disrupt the generating layer between the epidermis and dermis.  When Dillinger was shot and killed in 1934, his body was positively identified from his friction ridges.

Can’t you forge fingerprints?

The term ‘forge’ in fingerprints means that the print of an innocent person has been “planted” on an item of evidence, possibly by use of a cast or rubber stamp of that person’s finger.  The materials used to create these casts or stamps are problematic for the forger and a trained examiner can detect the problems with these when their suspicions are aroused.  “Fabrication” is the misrepresentation of where the print came from, such as lifting a print from a drinking glass, then saying that it came from another surface.  These can be harder to detect. 

Do entry level employees need any prior experience and if not, how are your entry level employees trained?

No. Entry level employees for the Property Crime Technician position are not required to have any prior experience in the forensic disciplines. All training is conducted in-house during a 400 hour training program. The training program consists of: a five week classroom and laboratory requirement, four weeks of supervised field instruction (with an assigned field trainer), and concludes with a one week testing phase, which requires the completion of: a mock crime scene, laboratory processing of evidence, sketch, report writing, and moot court testimony. Only after successful completion of the training program, would a new employee be authorized for independent casework and formally assigned to a shift.

Does everyone have different fingerprints?

Yes.  Small ridges, called friction ridges, begin forming on the hands and feet of the fetus before birth, and will grow larger as the person grows, but the basic shapes and locations of the minute detail does not change throughout a person’s lifetime.  The ridge formations go through a process of differential growth where they form randomly based on the pressures within the womb. The friction ridges will persist after the death of the individual, until decomposition sets in.

Does the Crime Scene Section offer opportunities to ride-out, volunteer, or with internship programs?

Yes. Observational ride-outs are available with Property Crime Technicians (only) and are approved by the shift supervisor after a perfunctory background check is performed. A strict dress code is enforced. Acceptance into the volunteer and internship programs is granted only through Bureau Management approval and only after specific requirements are met. Please see all forms and information regarding these programs at the Internships, Volunteers, Ride Outs.

Does the Crime Scene Specialist position require experience to be hired?

Yes. This is not an entry level position. (Please consult the posted job description at: hot link @ The Crime Scene Section prefers to promote from within and most Specialist vacancies are filled internally with qualified Property Crime Technicians. Many interested applicants decide to bypass the entry level position (along with the training program) and apply only for this position for which they are typically considered unqualified.

How can I clean the areas of my home that are stained by a processing method such as black powder?

Hard or non-porous surfaces may be cleaned with basic soap and water. However, there is no viable method known to clean black powder from a soft or porous surface – such as carpeting. Any introduction of water, such as in steam cleaning, will generally only cause the stain to spread. If there is any belief that an investigative process may stain or damage property in any way, the concern should be voiced prior to application.

How can I lodge a complaint against a civilian analyst or comment on the actions that were or were not taken?

A complaint may be made to any Police employee. Specific problems regarding a civilian analyst may be directed to a Crime Scene Supervisor by calling 311. Any damages that occur during the commission of a crime and or during the investigative processing should be reported to your insurance company or landlord for consideration of repair or reimbursement.

A customer survey is also available and recommended regarding any customer service comments, good or bad, at this link. Thank you!

How do I request a rush to get my case completed quickly?

Currently, the Assistant Lab Manager will weigh the circumstances and determine whether a rush is needed.  If granted, the Latent Print Supervisor will assign an Analyst to begin work on the request, in some cases, after hours, until the request is completed.  The manager may also assign it as a priority, which means the request will be taken out of order and worked on until completed. 

How does ‘Inconclusive’ differ from ‘Incomplete’?

Inconclusive means that there are similarities observed between the latent print and the known print during the comparison phase of the examination, but these are not sufficient to reach a conclusion of identity or exclusion.  Incomplete indicates the known exemplars available are not adequately recorded to compare with the latent print. 

How long does it take for fingerprints to be examined and will I find out if a suspect has been identified?

Latent fingerprints obtained from crime scenes (and evidence) by Crime Scene personnel or officers are submitted to the Latent Print Section to be possibly searched and or examined for identification. As with most disciplines within the Forensic Bureau, a large backlog of pending cases exist. The final result of any examination is reported to an assigned detective – regardless whether the case is active or has been previously closed. The investigating detective is generally the only one able to release this type of case information. 

How many points do you need to call an identification?

Research has shown that there is no scientific basis for requiring a set number of corresponding minutiae in two prints in order to declare an identification.  Every latent print is unique in the way it was deposited on the surface, and factors such as pressure, movement, the condition of the surface itself, the amount of residue, as well as the quantitative and qualitative condition of the visible features within the latent print all play a part in identification.  The clarity of the known exemplars also affect the ability to make an identification.

I submitted a request to have evidence processed. Has it been compared to the suspect yet?

A request for evidence processing for latent prints is different than a request to have existing latent prints compared.  It would be preferable to submit a latent print comparison request (LP) along with the latent print processing request (CSL) at the same time.  The comparison request will be suspended until the processing is completed.  If no latent prints are developed, the LP request will be administratively closed.  If prints are developed, the status will be changed from suspended and be assigned.

I was notified there was a viable candidate in my case. What does that mean?

This means that an AFIS inquiry has returned a candidate with sufficient similarity to the latent print to warrant a full comparison, to be conducted in the future by a Latent Print Analyst.   A report of a viable candidate does NOT mean that there have been any latent prints identified with this individual.  AFIS systems are viewed as tools that help locate candidates that may (or may not) be subsequently identified to the latent prints.  On-screen visual associations are not considered analyses and fall short of the requirements necessary to positively identify a person as the donor of a latent print.

If I touch something, will I leave a print?

That depends on a few factors, including the type of surface that is touched.  Smooth, clean, dry surfaces are the best.  Prints can be obtained through various methods from a wide variety of surfaces.  Residue transfer is also a factor.  Something must be picked up or left behind on the surface touched.  In some cases, friction ridges are impressed into a soft material, such as putty or a stick of butter. 

Is DNA better than fingerprints?

They’re both useful tools in the area of personal identification, just as a screwdriver and a hammer are both useful, but designed to perform differently.  One should not replace the other.  A good investigator will want to utilize all available evidence to build his case.

Should I contact the civilian analyst who responded to my crime for any reason?

No. Civilian analysts continue to investigate other crime scenes as they are reported and the same analyst may not be available or on duty, etc. to respond to your next request for service, if needed. Call 911 for immediate assistance or 311 to report additional information.

The AFIS search didn’t hit on anyone.

Most latent prints searched through the AFIS systems will be registered into the unsolved latent databases when there is no immediate association.  They will automatically continue to be checked against all new sets of known prints as they are entered into the system.  Occasionally, a registered latent print will be associated with a new set of fingerprints, and an assignment for comparison will be generated and the case detective notified.  All AFIS-suitable latent prints in open murder investigations will be rerun through the systems every two years.

What do you mean by the term: Limited Examination?

The APD Latent Print Section follows a Limited Examination policy as a tool to help manage the backlog.   Limited examinations are those in which one latent print is identified with each individual named in the request .  The final report will indicate when all latent prints have not been analyzed or compared. Limited examinations are only performed on property crime cases and certain person crime cases designated by the Supervisor.

What if I’ve never been fingerprinted?

If you’ve ever been in the military or applied for a job that requires a background check, your fingerprints are probably on file somewhere.

What if someone wears gloves?

In most cases persons wearing gloves will not leave friction ridge prints at scenes of crimes or on items of evidence.   It has been our experience, however, that many crimes are crimes of opportunity, and there is little or no effort by the perpetrator to avoid detection. 

What is a ten-print to latent inquiry (TLI hit)?

Most latent prints searched through the AFIS systems will be registered into the unsolved latent databases when there is no immediate association.  They will automatically continue to be checked against all new sets of known prints as they are entered into the system.  Occasionally, a registered latent print will be associated with a new set of fingerprints, and an assignment for comparison will be generated and the case detective notified. 

What is AFIS?

AFIS stands for ‘Automated Fingerprint Identification System’, however, the system itself doesn’t identify fingerprints.  That’s up to a qualified Latent Print Examiner, trained to competency, who has conducted a thorough analysis, comparison, and evaluation of the prints.  The AFIS systems are simply database searching tools that search large collections of fingerprint images and compile lists of most-likely donors. 

What makes fingerprints a viable means of identification?

Permanence and individuality.  Friction ridges have been shown to be permanent throughout a person’s lifetime, and no two individuals who have ever lived have been found to have the same fingerprints in exact detail.  There have also been decades of statistical studies that indicate the chances for two people to have the same fingerprint in exact detail is so remote as to be mathematically impossible.


Why can’t you tell me the name of the ‘viable candidate’?

When a viable candidate is developed through an AFIS inquiry, no scientifically-sustainable examination has yet been performed.  Our laboratory policies enforce complete analyses along with administrative and/or technical review prior to the results being published.  One of the intended consequences of not disclosing the name prior to release of the final report  is that it prevents false or inaccurate assumptions from being formed about a candidate’s role, if any, in the offense being investigated.

Why don’t you compare latent prints with victims?

We do compare the prints of victims of certain violent offenses, and in certain other circumstances where it would make sense to do so.  In most cases, however, we do not have the resources to do so simply for elimination purposes, especially in crimes against property.  Our main goal is to identify latent prints with potential suspects to link them to the crime being investigated, or to exclude possible suspects as the depositors of those latent prints.

Will a detective call me back or who do I call to give additional information about my case?

Whether a detective is assigned to your case or whether you will be contacted is largely dependent on viable leads associated with the case. You will not be contacted by any civilian analyst. Additional information pertaining to your case may be given to 311 operators who will enter the information into the case record for any investigating detective to utilize.

APD Sex Crimes Unit

Can I be sexually assaulted by my husband / partner?

Yes, sexual assault is sexual assault regardless of who perpetrates the crime.

Can I be sexually assaulted by someone of the same sex?


I'm not sure if I want to prosecute

You will not have to make a decision until further along in the investigative process. You will be given all of the information you need to make an informed decision about what is best for you.

It's been a long time since the sexual assault; can I still make a report?

Yes, you have 120 hours (5 days) to have a sexual assault forensic exam (SAFE) and ten years (statute of limitations on sexual assault) to make the report. We encourage victims to report the sexual assault even if it is past the statute of limitations.  Your case cannot go forward with prosecution, but it is important to document the assault and the perpetrators who commit them.

Should I still report if?

    * I was drinking / drunk
    * I was using drugs, legal or illegal
    * I was dancing with the suspect
    * I was making out with the suspect
    * I went home / he came to my place
    * I had consensual sex previously with the suspect

Yes, the responsibility of sexual assault lies with the actions of the perpetrator.

The Austin Travis County Sexual Assault Response and Resource Team has been recognized nationally for the reform efforts implemented as a result of the Making A Difference Project. This national project was to improve the response, investigation and prosecution of non-stranger sexual assaults.

For more information, see EVAW.

What do I do if I'm sexually assaulted?

Call 911 as soon as possible.

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is forced sexual contact without that person's consent.

Why is it important to report a sexual assault?

The majority of sexual assaults are not reported. Most perpetrators do not just commit one sexual assault. This means offenders are not held accountable for their crimes.

Auto Theft Unit

How do I check the status of a stolen vehicle and learn about the investigative process and challenges?

If you reported an Auto Theft, please understand that the report entry and transfer process takes up to two days upload from the field to the Auto Theft queue where we can assign it. It may take longer if it is unusually busy, or detectives are temporarily reassigned to respond to a significant event.

However, your vehicle's license plate and VIN were immediately entered into our department's citywide stolen vehicle list, as well as a state and nationwide stolen vehicle database even before a report was written. If any police officer identifies your vehicle, or checks the license plate listed in the databases, they will be notified your vehicle is stolen and will attempt to recover it.

As is often the case, your vehicle may be recovered quickly. Perhaps before the report is assigned. Our unit is still notified of the recovery and we attempt to call the number provided by the person who reported it stolen to make notification. Please make sure that phone is operational and that phone's voicemail system is able to receive messages from a detective in case you do not answer. When your vehicle is recovered, you will be notified of where your vehicle was impounded, and if recovered in Austin, the fees that may be associated with its impound.

Once your case is assigned, it will be investigated in the order in which it is received, exclusive of a need to pick up time-sensitive evidence, or when a post-arrest interview may be necessary. Our unit receives about 250 new cases per month, and we know the most important thing is that your vehicle is found and returned to you. We appreciate your patience, and your case is important to us. Please know the most important tool is already working for you the police, and that is the state and nationwide stolen vehicle database. This tool works on your behalf 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, until your vehicle is found.

The unfortunate reality is, in most auto theft cases, there is initially little, or no evidence by which an investigation may begin.

People often inquire about the existence of video. If video exists, detectives work to view and retrieve it quickly. This can be a challenge when business employees don't have access to the video equipment, or video is stored off-site. Businesses do not always respond in a timely manner and we sometimes learn the video was recorded over, erased, or was it not recording.

Surveillance video may show the offense, or that another vehicle was involved, but it is often of poor quality, at extreme angle, blocked by obstacles, or installed at too great a distance to read a license plate or to specifically identify a suspect. Most video systems are not installed to capture such details, just overall activities on site. Video generally cannot positively identify a suspect or other vehicles without a witness with specific knowledge. Witnesses with specific knowledge are rare, but responding officers do attempt to identify any on scene. Video evidence can be helpful later to compare with a person arrested driving your stolen vehicle.

Fingerprints are difficult to lift inside vehicles because of the texture or design of most interior surfaces. Fingerprints found on the outside of a vehicle will not provide conclusive evidence, but recovering officers still look for fingerprints inside and out. If fingerprints are lifted, the current wait for results is 12-18 months. This is due to the volume of cases already waiting for the Latent Print Division to examine. Due to the backlog of DNA evidence waiting for the Forensic lab to examine, DNA testing is not available for Auto Theft offenses at this time.

How do I learn more about 68-A inspections, or request a 68-A inspection?

The Austin Police Auto Theft Unit conducts 68-A inspections once per month on the second Thursday of the month.

The Austin Police Auto Theft Unit conducts 68-A Inspections for residents with an Austin home address. If you reside in another city, or in the county, you will need to contact the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to ask about where inspections are conducted for your area. If you need a 68-A inspection to have your vehicle titled in another State besides Texas, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles must do the inspection. Their local phone number is: 512-465-3000.

There is no inspection fee. 

68-A inspections are conducted at a specific location. The inspector does not come to your home or business. Inspections take place at 851 Blackson Avenue. You will need to arrange to bring your vehicle or trailer to the inspection location. You also need to bring your photo ID and the vehicle's title, or, if yours is a homemade vehicle or trailer that is not titled, you need to bring written proof of manufacture, bill of sale, and all documentation you have in order to substantiate its manufacture or ownership. If your vehicle was a gift or inheritance, please bring related documentation.

An appointment must be scheduled. To schedule please call 512-974-5265.

How do I retrieve personal property on behalf of someone who has been arrested in connection with an auto theft case?

If the property you are requesting is not evidence in the case, it may be released.

You can contact the Austin Police Evidence Division to determine the status of the property you are seeking. The number to the Evidence division is 512-974-5151. You will need to provide the case number. If the person was arrested by another police agency, you need to contact that agency.

Before you can retrieve the property, you need to ask the Evidence Division what documents are required. This will also involve contacting the jail where the person is incarcerated to follow their procedures for completing the required forms for, and with the incarcerated person.

County jails have websites that you can visit in order to determine the forms they require. These websites and often list their procedures and provide a phone number you can call.
The phone number to the Travis County Jail is 512-854-9770, or you can visit their website at WWW

How will I be notified of a recovered vehicle and about impound and storage fees?

If the phone number originally provided was disconnected at the time of recovery, the voicemail box was not set up, or it was full, or a phone number was not provided to police when the car was reported stolen, then police notification of recovery is mailed to the reportee's address. However, Tow companies will send written notice by certified mail to the name and address of the person who is the registered owner of the recovered vehicle after the third day. The tow company does not have access to any police report and police cannot legally provide victim information to any person, including a tow company. Therefore, the tow company only makes notification to the person or persons listed on the vehicle registration, which is the only information legally available to them.

There are several scenarios whereby your vehicle may be impounded after it is recovered:

1.    If your vehicle is recovered by the Austin Police Department, it will be towed to Southside Wrecker for safekeeping, and you will be notified of its recovery as quickly as possible. Impound fees apply, and  storage fees will accrue after the first 12 hours it is there.
a)    Southside Wrecker is located at 8200 South Congress Avenue and holds the impound contract with the Austin Police Department. Their 24-hour phone number is 512-441-7094.
b)    The State of Texas, not the Austin Police Department or Southside, sets tow company fee guidelines for vehicles impounded in connection with a crime.
c)    If the impounded vehicle has an investigative hold placed on it, the vehicle owner is not responsible for the storage fee portion of the bill for the period of time period it was on hold.
d)    Southside Wrecker's impound fee is $171.65 after tax, and this amount includes storage for the day it arrives. Storage fee for every day afterward is $20.00 per day.
e)    If your vehicle is impounded between midnight and 2pm, the 2"d day storage fee begins at midnight. If your vehicle is impounded after 2pm, the 2"d day storage fee begins at Sam the following morning. Southside can provide you with the exact amount due when you call.
f)    If your vehicle is recovered after hours, you may not be notified until the following morning, so there may be storage fee added to the amount of $171.65. The Auto Theft Unit makes notifications 7 days per week to best serve our victims, but we do not have 24-hour staffing.
g)    Auto Theft detectives attempt to make recovery notification to the phone number originally provided. Please make sure this phone remains operational, and that phone's voicemail box is set up and has space available to receive a message when there is no answer.
h)    If, after day three, notification cannot be made by phone, and the vehicle has not been picked up, Southside Wrecker is mandated by State regulations to send written notification to the owner and address listed on the vehicle registration. Notice must be sent by certified mail. Southside charges a $50.00 fee for certified mail notification.
i)    If you are not the registered owner, but for all intents and purposes, the vehicle is yours, this can pose challenges when Southside mails notification, and when you try to retrieve the car. You must prove ownership.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   j)    If you're not listed on the title and registration, you should call Southside at 512-441-7094 to determine forms of proof that must be provided to retrieve the vehicle. Each case is different.
k)    Southside is entirely responsible for the decision to release a vehicle to a person, not the Austin Police Department. Our unit cannot influence the decision. Southside may, or may not release it to someone other than the registered owner. The registered owner on the title may decide to pick up the vehicle when notified, and if this occurs, you will have to resolve rightful possession and ownership directly with the registered owner.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I) This requirement is in place for owner protection - and one reason why it is important if you are in such a situation now to transfer title and registration to your name, or at least have your name added to it as soon as possible in the future, to avoid costly delays and disputes over rightful ownership. You can take care of this at one of the local offices of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. For more information, visit their website:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 m) If your vehicle is recovered by another police agency, understand they may have different procedures, and will use a different tow company that may have a different fee structure. If you have questions about their impound or storage fees, you must to contact that police agency or the tow company they use.

2.    If another police agency recovers your stolen vehicle, that agency will notify Austin Police Communications personnel of the recovery. Austin Police Communications personnel send our unit a list of all recovered stolen vehicles by the end of each 8-hour shift.
3.    Our unit will attempt to contact the number originally provided once we receive the list. If your vehicle is on a list sent to our unit after 4pm, we will attempt notification the next morning.

4.    If you wish to seek restitution for fees, damages, or losses, you have options:
a)    Your vehicle insurance company may cover part, or all of the expense, depending on the terms of your coverage
b)    You can file a claim for restitution in a civil court of law, such as small claims court.
c)    If there is an arrest and prosecution for your auto theft, you may make a request to the prosecutor assigned to your case that restitution be included as part of the sentencing phase.
d)    Restitution of fees, loss, and damages is civil in nature, and therefore not a matter in which police can be involved in any way. Police also cannot make persons to pay for damage, loss, or fees, nor can police enforce civil orders or judgments.



Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle (UUMV)-What is the process?

Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle begins as a civil matter, and we understand how frustrating the Demand Letter process may seem. Please understand this matter can become criminal - but the Demand process must take place first. The Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle Demand Letter Process is not one that the Austin Police Department put in place to make matters more difficult, or to discourage reporting.

These steps are required by Travis County District Attorney's Office to first allow for the safe return of the vehicle within a reasonable period of time, and, if not, to establish a criminal intent on the part of the other person to deprive an owner of their vehicle. This must be established first before police can legally recover your vehicle and make an arrest.

The Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle Demand Letter Process most often results in your vehicle being returned peacefully. For most victims, this is the first and most important priority. Many choose not to continue with filing criminal charges after their vehicle is returned. This is also your choice.

A properly completed demand process will also reduce liability to you and to police officers who may have to conduct a dangerous, high-risk traffic stop involving the person you know and others inside that vehicle at the time it is recovered.

To download or print the Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle Demand Letter instructions and fill-in­the-blank demand letter, visit our website at:

You can also stop by any Austin Police sub-station and request a Demand Letter Process Instruction form, which includes a fill-in-the-blank demand letter.*

*APD sub-stations are currently attending by appointment only. 

What are the required steps in the Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle (UUMV) Demand Letter process?

1.  The person last in care, control and custody of the car must send a demand letter to the person who has the car now. The person last in custody of the car may not be the vehicle's registered owner, but they are who must send the letter, and who must later provide a sworn statement to police and sign an affidavit swearing to the facts they report.

2.  The person last in care, control, and custody completes and signs this demand letter. Before this letter is mailed, we recommend that someone make a copy of it for documentation. If there is no access to a copier, someone can take a clear photo of it with a cell phone camera or other type camera.

3.  Your demand letter must include five key pieces of information, to be valid. They are:
a) Address the letter to the person who has the car now. Include their first and last name, and last known address.
b) Demand that the vehicle be returned to a specific address. Provide the full address, city, and zip code of the location in Texas where the vehicle is to be returned.
c) Demand that the vehicle be returned within ten days of their receiving this letter.
d) Identify your vehicle completely within the letter. This includes year, color, make, model, license plate number and State of issue, and the 17 digit vehicle identification number, which is also called a VIN number. You can find the VIN number on insurance paperwork or bill of sale.
e) The letter is to be signed by the issuer and their name should be printed below that signature.

4.  Mail the demand letter to the last known address of the person who has the car now by certified, return receipt, mail. The Post Office, or a Mail Store, offer this service. The demand letter must be mailed in this manner because documentation generated by this method is part of evidence required. If you mail it another way, you will have to repeat the process by this method before the matter can proceed. Take note of the tracking number assigned to the letter and keep this with your other documentation.

5.  The last known address of the person who has the car now may be the current address of the person last in care, control, and custody, or of the registered owner. The address may be one you know the person recently moved from, or it may even be to a hotel. We understand that there may be unusual circumstances, or that it may not make sense, but, regardless of the circumstances, send the demand letter to the last known address.

6.  One of two outcomes will occur: a) The certified mail letter will be returned to you undeliverable, or
b) The letter will be accepted by that person, and in doing so, they will have to sign a receipt for it.
If you receive the returned letter, do not open it - save it unopened. If the person signs the receipt, that receipt will be sent back to you instead. Police and prosecutors will need to receive the unopened returned letter or the receipt, which ever is returned to you, in order to proceed.

7.  AFTER you receive the returned certified mail letter or the receipt, you must wait ten days from that date before proceeding further. This standard of expectation is considered a reasonable period of time allowable for the person to return the car to the location demanded in the letter- even if the letter was returned to you as undeliverable. To be clear, the ten- day waiting period begins on the postmark date on the returned unopened letter, or that was entered on receipt returned to you. This process takes 15 days, all together.

8.  After the process has been properly followed, contact the Auto Theft Unit to schedule an appointment. Due to the volume of incoming cases, current staffing, and the need to reserve an interview room, we cannot meet with you without you first making an appointment.

9.  The person with last care, control, and custody must be the one to set the appointment and who meets with the detective. They should provide the case number, if they received one in advance, when they request an appointment.

10.  Things that should be kept by you in preparation for the appointment are;
a) The tracking number and the unopened returned certified letter or returned receipt
b) A copy or photo of the demand letter, if one was made; and
c) Any additional documents or information that may be evidence of criminal intent to deprive you or another person of the car.

DWI Enforcement Team

Are beer and wine less impairing than hard liquor?

Impairment is not determined by the type of drink but rather by the amount of alcohol ingested over a specific period of time. There is a similar amount of alcohol in such standard drinks as a 12-ounce glass of beer, a 4-ounce glass of wine, and 1.25 ounces of 80-proof liquor. Beer is the most common drink consumed by people stopped for alcohol-impaired driving or involved in alcohol-related crashes.3

Are most alcohol-impaired driving crashes caused by repeat offenders?

No. It is true that people with prior convictions for driving while impaired by alcohol are overrepresented among drivers in fatal crashes. According to a federal study, drivers convicted of alcohol-impaired driving during the past 3 years are at least 1.8 times as likely to be in fatal crashes as drivers with no prior convictions during the same time period and are at least 4 times as likely to be in fatal crashes in which drivers have high BACs (0.10 percent or higher).13 However, in 2007 only 8 percent of drivers in fatal crashes with high BACs (0.08 percent or higher) had previous alcohol-impaired driving convictions on their records. The actual incidence of previous convictions could be higher, because information on convictions was available for only the prior 3 years. In addition, some alcohol offenses are not included on driver records because of court programs that allow drivers to remove or avoid a conviction if they attend educational programs. Still, most alcohol-impaired driving fatal crashes do not involve drivers with a long history of multiple alcohol convictions.

Is the problem of alcohol-impaired driving limited to people with very high BACs? No. Among passenger vehicle drivers with illegal BACs (0.08 percent or higher) who died in crashes in 2007, 28 percent had BACs lower than 0.15 percent.

Have hard-core drinking drivers been unaffected by countermeasures directed at all drivers? No. It often is suggested that alcohol-impaired driving crashes are increasingly caused by people with very high BACs and repeat offenders. However, between 1982 and 2007, all categories of illegal BACs declined among fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers: 0.08-0.14 percent, 0.15-0.19 percent, 0.20-0.24 percent, and 0.25 percent and higher. In 1982, 14 percent of fatally injured drivers had BACs of 0.08-0.14 percent compared with 9 percent in 2007. The percentage of fatally injured drivers with BACs of 0.15 percent or higher declined from 37 percent in 1982 to 26 percent in 2007. Most of the declines occurred between 1982 through the mid-1990s. Since then, the percentages have stayed about the same or risen slightly for all BAC categories. Previous alcohol convictions reflect both driving behavior and law enforcement patterns. During 1991-1995, about 12 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers with BACs at or above 0.08 percent had alcohol convictions during the previous 3 years. This percentage declined to 8 percent in both 2006 and 2007. These statistics do not support the claims that hard-core drinking drivers have become a larger part of the problem or that they have been unaffected by countermeasures directed at all drivers.

Does alcohol-impaired driving differ by gender?

Crashes among male drivers are much more likely to involve alcohol than those among female drivers. Among fatally injured male drivers of passenger vehicles in 2007, 40 percent had BACs at or above 0.08 percent. The corresponding proportion among female drivers was 21 percent. Alcohol involvement in fatal crashes was highest for males ages 21-40. Between 1982 and 2007, the proportion of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers with BACs at or above 0.08 percent declined from 56 to 40 percent among males and from 33 to 21 percent among females. According to national roadside breath surveys, females are increasingly driving at night. The proportion of females in weekend nighttime samples of drivers increased from 16 percent in 1973 to 26 percent in 1986 and 31 percent in 1996.10 The increase between 1973 and 1986 was accompanied by a reduction from 3 to 1.3 percent in the proportion of female drivers with BACs at or above 0.10 percent. However, between 1986 and 1996, the percentage of female drivers with high BACs increased slightly from 1.3 to 1.5 percent, compared with a decline from 3.9 to 3.5 percent for male drivers.

How has the incidence of alcohol-impaired driving changed over time?

The incidence of alcohol-impaired driving has been reduced but remains a major problem. NHTSA and the Institute undertook a national roadside breath survey in 1996, patterned after 1986 and 1973 surveys, and found that 83 percent of drivers had no measurable alcohol, a significant increase in nondrinking drivers above the rates of 74 percent in 1986 and 64 percent in 1973.10 In 1996, 7.7 percent of drivers had BACs at or above 0.05 percent, compared with 8.4 percent in 1986 and 13.7 percent in 1973. The proportion of drivers with BACs at or above 0.10 percent was 2.8 percent in 1996, 3.2 percent in 1986, and 5 percent in 1973.

How many drinks does it take to reach significantly impairing BACs?

The effects of alcoholic drinks vary greatly because the rate of absorption and BACs attained vary from person to person due to factors such as weight, amount of fat tissue, and stomach contents. Nevertheless, various organizations have developed charts intended to help people estimate their BACs based on the number of drinks consumed. These tables can be used to estimate BACs, but they are subject to error. Some people can be substantially impaired after only two drinks. In addition, women can attain higher BACs and become more impaired than men who weigh the same and consume the same amount of alcohol because alcohol is processed differently by women and men.

What BAC is considered illegal?

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have per se laws defining it as a crime to drive with a BAC at or above the proscribed level, 0.08 percent.

What does blood alcohol concentration (BAC) measure?

A BAC describes the amount of alcohol in a person's blood, expressed as weight of alcohol per unit of volume of blood. For example, 0.08 percent BAC indicates 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. For most legal purposes, however, a blood sample is not necessary to determine a person's BAC. It can be measured more simply by analyzing exhaled breath.

What is drunk driving?

This term is an inaccurate characterization of the problems caused by motorists who are impaired by alcohol. The first criminal laws targeting this problem prohibited "drunk driving," encouraging the notion that the problem was restricted to drivers who were visibly drunk. In fact, many alcohol-impaired drivers do not appear drunk in the traditional way. Research has shown that even small amounts of alcohol can impair the skills involved in driving, but the persistent notion that the problem is predominantly one of drunk drivers has allowed many drinking drivers to decide they are not part of the problem. For these reasons, the term "alcohol-impaired driving" is a more accurate and precise description of what is commonly referred to as drunk driving.

What is the effect of alcohol on driving skills and crash risk?

The probability of a fatal crash increases significantly after 0.05 percent BAC and climbs more rapidly after 0.08 percent. 1. Drivers with very high BACs (at or above 0.15 percent) have a very high risk of dying in a crash or being severely injured.1,2

What proportion of motor vehicle crashes involves alcohol?

The most reliable information about alcohol involvement comes from fatal crashes. In 2007, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that 32 percent of all traffic deaths occurred in crashes in which at least one driver had a BAC at or above 0.08 percent and that some alcohol was present in 37 percent of drivers involved in all traffic fatalities. 4 Thirty-five percent of pedestrians killed in crashes also had BACs at or above 0.08 percent. Such statistics do not mean that a third or more of all fatal crashes are caused solely by alcohol, because alcohol may be only one of several factors that contribute to a crash involving drinking drivers. A 2007 Institute study estimated that 13,452 of the approximately 15,000 alcohol-related crash deaths in 2005 were directly attributable to alcohol. These lives could have been saved if all drivers had been restricted to no blood alcohol. About 8,900 lives could have been saved by reducing BACs to less than 0.08 percent, and 11,100 lives could have been saved by reducing drivers' BACs to less than 0.05 percent.5 It has also been estimated that 15 percent of all crashes occurring between 4pm and 2am would be avoided if no driver had a BAC of 0.05 or above.6 Alcohol involvement is much lower in crashes involving nonfatal injuries and lower still in crashes that do not involve injuries at all. A study conducted during the 1960s estimated that 9 percent of drivers in injury crashes and 5 percent of drivers in non-injury crashes in Grand Rapids, Michigan, had BACs at or above 0.10 percent.7 A 1977 study found that 12 percent of drivers in injury crashes in Huntsville, Alabama, and San Diego, California, had BACs at or above 0.10 percent, compared with 1 percent of a sample of drivers not involved in crashes.8 According to a research review conducted during this same period, studies of fatally injured drivers found that 40-55 percent had BACs at or above 0.10 percent.9

When do alcohol-impaired driving crashes occur?

They happen at all hours, but alcohol involvement in crashes peaks at night and is higher on weekends than on weekdays. Among passenger vehicle drivers who were fatally injured between 9 pm and 6 am in 2007, 60 percent had BACs at or above 0.08 percent compared with 20 percent during other hours. Forty-seven percent of all fatally injured drivers on weekends (6 pm Friday to 6 am Monday) in 2007 had BACs at or above 0.08 percent. At other times the proportion was 26 percent.

Who qualifies as a "hard-core drinking driver"?

The term was coined to refer to people who repeatedly drive while impaired and are resistant to changing their behavior despite previous sanctions, treatments, or education. The underlying premise is that many, if not most, of these people are problem drinkers.11 The term is not precisely defined, although two criteria commonly used to identify hard-core drinking drivers are prior alcohol-impaired driving convictions and very high BACs (0.15 percent or higher) at the time of arrest for alcohol-impaired driving. Hard-core drinking drivers have drawn extra attention in recent years as policymakers have tried to renew progress against alcohol-impaired driving. The concept of hard-to-change chronic heavy drinking drivers ignores many who account for a large portion of alcohol-impaired driving crashes. These include drivers who drink heavily on occasion and drivers who drink at more moderate levels that elevate crash risk. Some countermeasures aimed at the hard-core group have been effective in reducing recidivism, but attention and resources also need to be given to general deterrent initiatives (e.g. sobriety checkpoints, administrative license suspension).12

Financial Crime

How can I reduce my risk of becoming a victim of fraud?

You can reduce the risk of becoming a victim of fraud by following the advice below:

  • Do not leave personal items in your car, even if it’s your own driveway over night…even if it is locked and has an alarm system.  Many victims could have avoided becoming victims had they not left their wallets, purses, junk mail, etc. in their vehicles while at the grocery store, gym, or parked overnight in their home.
  • Do not mail bills from your home mailbox. Take them to a secured US Postal service box
  • When ordering new boxes of checks from your bank, have them delivered to your bank, not your home.  Your bank will notify you when they are available to pickup.
  • Do not share your PIN code to your debit/credit card with ANYONE
  • Don’t use your birth date or mothers maiden name as a password for your accounts
  • Avoid writing your account numbers on your checks when paying your credit card bills.  If a criminal steals your monthly bank statement, these cancelled checks will give the criminal all the information he or she needs to commit fraud.
  • Protect your social security number.  Be careful to whom you give it.  Do NOT put it or your driver’s license number on your checks
  • Shred your credit card receipts and bank statements before throwing away in the trash
  • Request credit reports from each of the credit bureaus, checking for discrepancies, on a regular basis
How do I contact the credit bureaus or the check verification companies?

Credit Bureaus:

  • Trans Union Fraud Victim Assistance 800-680-7289
  • TRW/Experian Consumer Fraud Assistance 800-301-7195
  • Equifax Consumer Fraud Unit 800-525-6285 Check Verification Companies:
  • TeleCheck 800-366-2425

National Processing Co. 800-526-5380 *** Make ALL your notifications by telephone, and in writing.

I keep receiving collection notices from merchants for checks I did not write or charges I did not make. What should I do?

After making a police report either online or via phone with 311, contact the merchant and advise them that someone is forging your checks/using your credit/debit card without consent and supply them with the police report number.  Whenever possible, obtain copies of the transactions from the merchants and submit them to our office.

My checks or credit cards were stolen in the mail. Can I report them stolen?

Yes, however, you must report this to the U. S Postal Inspector. They have jurisdiction for investigating thefts involving the U. S. mail.

My driver’s license was stolen and someone is using my number. What do I do?

If your driver’s license number is compromised you must contact the Texas Department of Public Safety. Their phone number varies depending on where you live. You can find their phone number in the BLUE pages of the telephone book under "State Government". You should call the office nearest your residence.

What do I do if someone uses my identity to open a charge account in my name?

You may reduce your risk of being victimized if you do the things listed below. Charge or Credit Account:

  • Immediately contact the issuer of the credit (ie: a credit card company such as American Express or Visa; a department store; a bank).  Whenever possible, ask to speak with someone in the fraud investigations division.
  • When your credit card is used to purchase merchandise, you should also contact the store where the card was used. Contact someone who works in fraud investigations or loss prevention for the store. 
  • Contact all three (3) of the credit reporting companies and report the incident to each of them. (Please refer to phone numbers provided below)
What if my checks or credit cards are stolen from: my purse or wallet, vehicle, gym locker, etc.?

Make a police report as soon as possible and have any affected accounts closed.  The portion of your report involving the actual theft of the items will be handled by the investigative unit located in the area where the theft occurred.  If the cards/checks were used fraudulently, our office will handle that portion of the investigation.

Human Trafficking and Vice Unit

About the Human Trafficking Unit

In February of 2004, the Austin Police Department implemented the IPT (Immigrant Protection) Unit to help combat the crime of human trafficking since many of the victims of human trafficking are immigrants.  The IPT was attached to the APD Robbery Unit and assisted with robberies involving immigrant victims as well as addressing cases of fraud and scam affecting the immigrant community.

In October 2004, the Austin Police Department applied for and received a federal grant to help combat human trafficking. The Bureau of Justice Assistance awarded the three year grant in December 2004.  The grant was one of ten awarded nationwide that provided funding for ten task forces under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.

In 2007, the unit's name and mission was changed to focus on their true and only purpose - to investigate and find victims of human trafficking - both immigrants and domestic U.S. citizens.

How are Victims Lured?

There are a number of common patterns for luring victims into situations of human trafficking, including:

    * A promise of a good job in another country
    * A false marriage proposal turned into a bondage situation
    * Being kidnapped by traffickers

What are the Signs that Someone May be Trafficked?

As you go about your daily activities we encourage you to "look beneath the surface" and watch for indicators of modern-day slavery such as the following: Evidence of being controlled,  Inability to move or leave a job,  Bruises or other signs of physical abuse,  No passport or other identification documents,  Recent arrival to the U.S. ,  Unaware of what city or state they are in,  Strong sense of fear or distrust.

Where are Victims of Trafficking Found?

Victims of trafficking may look like many of the people you see and interact with every day.

  • Victims of labor trafficking can be found in: Domestic servitude (maids or nannies),  Construction,  Agricultural work,  Restaurant services,  Sweatshop factories,  Hotel or tourist industries,  Janitorial services,  Panhandling/begging operations
  • Victims of sex trafficking can be found in: Brothels,  Cantinas,  Strip club dancing,  Pornography
Why Don't Victims Just Run Away?

In addition to the physical violence and threats of violence against themselves, victims also face the threat of having their family members harmed or murdered by the traffickers if they try to run away or tell anyone about their situation. This creates extreme fear and psychological bondage that keeps them enslaved.

Internal Affairs

How Do I Commend an Officer?

The Austin Police Department is committed to rewarding officers and employees for commendable actions and service. Anyone who feels that an employee has performed his or her duties in a particularly courteous, helpful or competent manner may commend the employee by:

Writing a letter directed to the employee, the employee's supervisor, or the Chief of Police at:

Austin Police Department 715 E. 8th Street Austin, Texas 78701

Phoning the commendation to:(512) 974-5017

E-mailing  the Austin Police Department

Be sure to obtain the employee's name, employee number, and the area command he or she is assigned to, if possible. Commendations become a part of the employee's personnel file.

How do I Make a Complaint?

The Office of Police Oversight (OPO) provides oversight of the Austin Police Department’s conduct and practices, addressing concerns and complaints of alleged violations of policy. Complaints against police officers can be filed in-person, over the phone, online, or by mail. Contact the Office of Police Oversight to file a complaint.

The process for giving feedback about Austin Police officers has been redesigned. Complaints can now be filed on the OPO website,, using the new online form, which is available in both English and Spanish. The online version of the form also allows community members to submit complaints anonymously.

Office of Police Oversight

1520 Rutherford Lane, Bldg. 1
Austin, TX 78754

Contact Information:
Phone: (512) 972-2676
Fax: (512) 974-6306

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1088
Austin, TX 78767

We also want to hear about the good experiences that community members have with the Police Department. Along with the complaint form there is also a Thank You form that can be used to show appreciation for police officers. The Thank You form is also available at

What Happens Next?

Once a complaint has been filed with Internal Affairs, it is reviewed and assigned a classification based on the nature of the allegation. The most serious allegations, such as those involving criminal misconduct, excessive force resulting in injury requiring professional medical attention, and serious violations of policy, rules and regulations, are categorized as Class A Complaints. Class B Complaints are generally less serious violations of Department policy, rules and regulations. These may include improper language, inadequate service, excessive force without injury requiring treatment, and negligent damage or loss of property. Other complaints are classified as Administrative Complaints. Anyone making a complaint will receive a reply letter with notification of the outcome of the investigation.

Who May Make a Complaint?

Citizens and non-citizens alike may make complaints of inappropriate behavior or misconduct by members of the Austin Police Department.

Vehicle Abatement

A car has been parked for a month on the street with an expired inspection sticker and plates. Why isn’t it tagged and moved?

It has to be “visibly” inoperable and the courts have decided that expired tags or inspections make no bearing on that.  Additionally, there is no law or ordinance that prevents a car from being legally parked indefinitely.

Can a trailer be on the street unattached?

You cannot leave a trailer of any kind on the street unattached from a motor vehicle.

How long can a vehicle stay on the street before it’s considered abandoned?

If a vehicle is left on the street in violation it can be tagged immediately.  Once tagged, the vehicle is left for 48 hours for the owner to fix the problem or remove the vehicle from the street.

I saw a car abandoned on the road; I’d like to have it – what can I do?

You cannot claim property from the side of the road.  The vehicle must be impounded and proper notice must be given to the registered owner.  This allows the registered owner the opportunity to claim the vehicle before it is sold at auction.

I’d like to know about your police auctions.
My neighbor has a vehicle parked on his lawn. Who do I contact about that?

Not all neighborhoods have opted into the ordinance that does not allow parking in the yard (City Code Chapter 12-5-29 FRONT OR SIDE YARD PARKING). City of Austin Code is responsible for enforcement of this ordinance. 

My neighbor has several cars parked at his home, more cars than there are tenants, is this against the law?

City Ordinance allows one vehicle per licensed driver.  Code Enforcement enforces this ordinance and they can be reached by calling 311 or (512) 974-5750.

The people who rented a property I own left their car behind – can I call a wrecker to come and get rid of it?

You cannot move a vehicle without permission from the owner.  Any reputable wrecker company will not tow a vehicle unless they have permission from the titled owner of the car.  Please call 512-974-8119 and request APD to tag and tow the vehicle.  We will ask you to fill out a Private Property Affidavit with the description and location of the vehicle.  This notarized form gives APD permission to come onto the property and tag the unwanted vehicle.  After the vehicle is tagged, the officer will return after 48 hours and if it is still on scene, a pick up order will be issued to the wrecker company to impound the vehicle.  There is no charge to the owner of the property or the owner of the vehicle.  Certified letters will go out to the registered owners notifying them that the vehicle has been impounded and will be sold at auction if not redeemed.

There is a Home Owners Association in my neighborhood and they state that I cannot park on the city street. Does APD enforce the rules of an HOA?

The Police Department does not enforce HOA rules however they will tag the vehicle if it is in violation of a City Ordinance.

What is the definition of an abandoned vehicle?

The definition of an abandoned vehicle is one that is either A) parked illegally because it is:

    * more than 18” from the curb
    * facing the wrong way on the road “Left Wheel to Curb”
    * parked on city easement, left unattended on a controlled access highway
    * an unattached trailer on the street
    * an overweight vehicle whose gross weight exceeds 9,000 lbs on a street with 30 mph speed limit or less
    * for sale on the street

Or B) is mechanically inoperable on the street with characteristics that include:

    * up on jack stands
    * flat tire(s)
    * wrecked
    * health

Why is my car tagged even though it’s completely on my property?

The laws affect any junk car if it is visible from any PUBLIC area, I.E. street/sidewalk/alley/etc.  Covering it with a cover does NOT prevent it from being seen.

Vehicular Homicide

I got scared and left the scene. What happens next?

Many of the cases involve someone who is scared because they do not have a license or believe they will be arrested because they caused the crash.  It is far worse to leave the scene than receive a ticket at the scene. We have seen cases in which the party that left was not a contributing factor in the crash and would not have even received a ticket but now had to be responsible for the crime.  Since Leaving the Scene of a crash is a crime there will likely be consequences.  It is recommended that you contact the police to provide your information.  If you are working with a detective, arrangements can be made to turn yourself in and you do not have to be afraid that you will be arrested unexpectedly. 

I was given insurance information that now appears to be invalid. How do I pursue this?

Driving without insurance is a violation of the law. The only type of enforcement that can be taken is to issue a citation. Provide APD with the information you received from the other party at the scene along with documentation that the insurance is no longer invalid and a citation will be issued if possible. Call 512-974-5789 for additional information.

I was involved in a crash and we exchanged information. Now the other party will not pay. Will the police investigate this?

Police investigate crashes to provide relief for the injured and clear the roadways as soon as practical.  Once the parties have exchanged information and complied with the law the Police are no longer involved. Crashes are civil incidents and any remedies for wrongdoing should be addressed in Civil Court.

I’m not happy with the officer’s investigation of my crash. Who do I call?

An officer’s primary responsibility is to seek relief for the injured and clear the roadway as soon as practical. The crash report provides for “investigator’s narrative opinion” which is made from the information available at the time the officer investigates. If there appears to be a mistake on the report you should contact the officer’s supervisor to discuss any corrections. Crashes are civil incidents and any remedies should be addressed in Civil Court.

I’m the victim of a leaving the scene crash and I made a police report. What happens next?

As the victim of a leaving the scene crime you will be sent an information letter explaining how to pursue criminal charges. Police investigate the criminal portion of your crash. To recover any money for your property damage will require civil litigation. The criminal investigation will not result in getting you reimbursed but will hold the suspect responsible for violating the law. The City of Austin has hundreds of leaving the scene crashes each month. The case will be investigated as resources allow but the investigative process takes time. Please understand each case is important to us but we may not finish the investigation in time to get your car repaired or settle your insurance claim.  

I’m the victim of a road rage incident, what is the procedure?

Road Rage is not actually a crime but a behavior associated with angry driving. It does tend to lead to a crime but not always. If there is an assault or damage caused those will be investigated as criminal acts. Bad behavior behind the wheel does not rise to the level of a criminal investigation.

I’ve been involved in a crash. What should I do?

If your vehicle can be driven safely you should move off the highway to minimize interference freeway traffic. Call 911 to report the crash, an officer will be dispatched when available to determine if an investigation will be done. You can exchange information (name, address, registration, liability insurer and driver’s license) with the other party and complete a Driver’s Crash Report (CR2). This report is available at

The crash was not my fault. Do I have to give my information? Why not just get the information from the person who caused it?

The law requires all involved parties to give their information.  Transportation Code section 550.023 Duty to Give Information and Render Aid.

The operator of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in the injury or death of a person or damage to a vehicle that is driven or attended by a person shall:

  1. give the operator's name and address, the registration number of the vehicle the operator was driving, and the name of the operator's motor vehicle liability insurer to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision;
  2. if requested and available, show the operator's driver's license to a person described by Subdivision (1);  and
  3. provide any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including transporting or making arrangements for transporting the person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if the injured person requests the transportation.
Why didn’t the officer write the other person a ticket?

Officers investigate crashes with the information available at the time. To issue a citation there must be probable cause which is a much higher standard than any civil litigation. It is the individual officer that has to decide whether enough evidence exists to issue a citation. Any questions should be addressed with the investigating officer’s supervisor.

Wrecker Enforcement

Does a tow truck company have the right to refuse a credit card payment?

Tow companies must accept credit card payments.

How do I know where my car was towed to?

If your car was towed from a parking lot, red & white signs should be posted at the entrance/exit with the name and phone number of the wrecker company who tows from that lot. Please call that number for more information about your vehicle or you may visit For vehicles towed from a public road, please call 3-1-1 with your vehicle information, or you can visit

I called my own wrecker to the scene of an accident, but when APD arrived they said the company wasn’t on the “approved list” and wouldn’t let me use them. Is this legal?

We monitor the quality of the participants in order to ensure public safety, so we do require that any wrecker who services a call while APD is on scene be part of our approved roster of companies. 

I came outside to see my car partially hooked up to a wrecker – what rights do I have?

If the car is not fully prepared for transport, the wrecker must release your vehicle at no charge and you must move the vehicle immediately, if not legally parked.  If the wrecker is “Fully Prepared for Transport” but has not yet left the property, you can pay a $50 fee for them to drop the vehicle and you must remove it from the scene immediately.  A tow company can charge the standard non-consent tow fee ($150) after it has left the property.

I feel that my car was towed illegally; can an APD officer make the tow truck company release my vehicle without any cost to me?

If your vehicle has been towed, we need to go through the proper channels to investigate the legality of the tow.  Contact 3-1-1 to file a Wrecker Ordinance Violation.  It is best to redeem your vehicle as soon as possible so it stops accruing storage fees.  You can then file for an Unlawful Tow Hearing through the Justice of the Peace.  On the back of the tow receipt is information about the Justice of Peace.  You file in the court that corresponds to the area of town from which your vehicle was towed.

My car was left on the side of the highway for only an hour, why did APD have it towed?

The City of Austin works under a Zone Program.  This allows the Police Department to remove vehicles from major roadways (IH 35, Mo-Pac Expressway, US Hwy 183) that could potentially cause hazards.  Wrecker companies are stationed on these major roadways during rush hour times Monday – Friday from 6am-9am and 4pm-7pm, except for City of Austin Holidays.  If a vehicle is left unattended during this time, the vehicle will be removed immediately.  Any vehicle left unattended on IH-35 will be impounded as a traffic hazard because of the high volume of traffic on this road at any hour.  Otherwise, vehicles left unattended on the roadways that do not pose as a traffic hazard will be tagged as abandoned and impounded after 48 hours, if still on scene.

The wrecker company wants to charge me almost $200 to get my car out – that seems like a lot, is that right?

An impound in Austin will cost $185, $20 impound fee, $25 administrative fee (applicable to police impounds only), and $20 storage fees once the vehicle arrives at the vehicle storage facility. The approximate total is $253.30. Cash or debit/credit cards are accepted at all vehicle storage facilities. Example: if your car is impounded at 1:56 p.m. and it arrives at the vehicle storage facility a $20 fee is incurred automatically. At 12 a.m. the following morning a new day begins and another $20 storage fee is added to the total. The vehicle storage facility may also charge $50 after the 2nd day if a certified notification letter is sent to the registered owner about their vehicle. It is important to remove a vehicle from impound as soon as possible to avoid costly fees. If you are not sure if your car has been stolen or impounded, go to and enter your license plate to find out if your vehicle has been impounded, or call 311 or (512) 974-2000 if calling from an area code other than 512.

What do I do if I think my car was towed illegally?

Call 3-1-1 and file a police report for “wrecker ordinance violation.”  Pay to get your car out of impound and request a hearing with the local Justice of the Peace to potentially recoup your money.  Please see the City of Austin Towing Customer Bill of Rights in English and in Spanish. You can also contact the state agency that regulates towing, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (“TDLR”) at 1-800-803-9202. After you have made a police report, the case will be assigned to a Detective and they will be in contact with you.