If you are a resident or driver in Australia, you may have heard of the term “vehicle impound”. A vehicle impound is a place where a car is in an impound for a certain period of time. Vehicle impoundment is a serious matter and can happen for a variety of reasons, including:
- Driving dangerously
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI driving)
- Driving without a licence or auto insurance
- Police car chase
- Parking your car illegally and in a way that obstructs traffic
This article will help you understand how a car can end up in a vehicle impound. We’ll also outline relevant laws and regulations, and discuss how traffic lawyers can help with vehicle impoundment.
- Vehicle impoundment is when a police or a senior police officer takes your car and holds it in an impound lot for a certain period of time.
- Vehicle impoundment can happen for a variety of reasons.
- The specific processes, forms, fines, and penalties for car impounding differ depending on which state or territory you’re from.
- If your car is impounded, you’ll need to follow a specific process to get it released, which may include paying fines and storage fees.
Vehicle Impound Laws in New South Wales
Vehicle sanctions in NSW are penalties that authorities impose to deter dangerous driving behaviours and promote road safety. These sanctions can involve either the confiscation of number plates or the impounding of the motor vehicle itself.
The duration of these sanctions typically lasts for three months but can extend up to six months. The six-month rule applies if the driver was disqualified from driving at the time of the offence.
A police officer has the authority to impound vehicles even if the driver is not the registered owner. This includes vehicles registered to companies. Impounding can occur immediately at the roadside for serious offences such as:
- Street racing;
- Aggravated burnouts;
- Police pursuits;
- Excessive speeding;
- Repeat unauthorised driving;
- Repeat high-risk drunk driving; and
- Combined drink and drug driving offences.
Vehicle Sanction Penalties
When the Driver is the Registered Operator:
If the driver committing a serious driving offence is also the registered owner of the vehicle, police can:
- Place the car in a vehicle impound immediately; or
- Issue a notice requiring the vehicle to be impounded within 10 days
Failure to comply with the notice may lead to further penalties. Additionally, police may confiscate the vehicle’s number plates.
When the Driver is Not the Registered Operator
What about cases where the offending driver is not the registered owner? If this is the case, Transport for NSW may issue a suspension warning notice to the registered owner. This notice serves as a warning that if the vehicle is involved in a second offence, its registration may be suspended for three months.
The intention is not to penalise vehicle owners for offences committed by others but to encourage proper supervision of vehicle usage.
When the Vehicle is Registered to a Company
For serious driving offences committed in company-registered vehicles, police can confiscate the vehicle and its number plates.
Hoon Offences and Number Plate Confiscation
Hoon offences, such as driving with no plates or false plates, or tampering with police-issued production notice stickers, can lead to immediate confiscation of number plates. Driving a vehicle without number plates can result in severe penalties. Offenders can apply to the local court for early release of confiscated plates.
How Vehicle Impoundment Works
If your car is in the vehicle impound, you’ll need to follow a specific process to get it released. Generally, you’ll have to make an appointment to get your car out of a vehicle impound. You can do so with the local police holding your vehicle or the impound lot itself.
To get your car released, you’ll need to provide proof of ownership, identification, and insurance. You’ll also need to pay any fines and storage fees associated with the impoundment. The specific fees and fines will depend on the state or territory where your car was impounded
It’s important to note that abandoning your car in a vehicle impound is not an option, as you’re still responsible for the vehicle one way or another. If you don’t claim your car within a certain period of time, it may be sold or destroyed.
FAQs About Vehicle Impound
Q: Can I appeal if I believe that my car wasn’t supposed to be in the vehicle impound?
Yes. Individuals who have received a vehicle sanction can apply to the court for early release of their vehicle or number plates before the confiscation period ends. To be considered for early release, the applicant must demonstrate a legitimate need for the vehicle and convince the court that:
- The vehicle is unlikely to be used for further serious driving offences.
- The confiscation would cause extreme hardship for someone other than the registered owner.
The court cannot release a vehicle or number plates earlier than five working days after the imposition of sanction. We highly recommend that you seek legal advice before appealing a vehicle impound decision.
Q: How do I get my car out of a vehicle impound?
To release your car from impound, you’ll need to provide proof of ownership, identification, and insurance. You’ll also need to pay any fines and storage fees associated with the impoundment.
Q: What happens if I don’t claim my car from impound?
If you don’t claim your car within a certain period of time, it may be sold or destroyed.
Q: What happens to the person who paid the towing and storage costs?
If someone pays the impound fees to release the vehicle, the person who paid the towing and storage costs can get a full refund.
Did the Tow Truck or Police Impound Your Car?
Motor vehicle impoundment can disrupt daily life and cause financial strain. JB Solicitors understands the urgency and inconvenience associated with impounded vehicles. Our experienced traffic lawyers can assist drivers in several ways:
- Reviewing the Impoundment Process: The team thoroughly examines the circumstances surrounding the impounded motor vehicle, ensuring that we follow proper procedures and uphold the driver’s rights.
- Advising on Legal Options: JB Solicitors provides clear guidance on the available legal options, including challenging the impoundment decision or applying for early release of the vehicle under reasonable grounds.
- Representing Clients in Court: If necessary, the lawyers can represent clients in court proceedings, presenting a strong case to argue for the release of the impounded vehicle.
Contact us if authorities impounded your vehicle recently.