Confiscation and impoundment

The Police can confiscate and impound your car at the roadside if you or the car represents a hazard on the road.

Reasons why your car might be impounded or confiscated

This applies particularly if:

  • You've been disqualified from holding or getting a driver licence
  • Your driver licence has been suspended or revoked
  • You don't hold a driver licence or your licence has expired, and you've been forbidden to drive by a Police officer until you've got or renewed your licence.
  • You're caught racing or doing dangerous stunts such as wheel spins
  • You commit a drink drive offence and have two previous drink drive convictions in the last four years
  • The car is considered unsafe for the road
  • You're caught driving at 40 km/h or more above the speed limit

The duration of impoundment is usually 28 days. You've then got 10 days to claim the vehicle and make arrangements to pay the fee.

If your car was impounded because it was unsafe, it must be repaired to warrant of fitness standard before it can be driven again.

If the driver isn't the vehicle owner

Did you know?

Regardless of whether the driver owns the vehicle, it can be impounded.

If the driver isn't the vehicle owner, it's the owner who often ends up being most inconvenienced by the impoundment. However, there are no grounds for an appeal based on hardship or severe inconvenience. Appeals can only be made under a strict set of circumstances. These require the vehicle owner to clearly demonstrate that:

  • They did not know, or could not reasonably have been expected to know, the driver was or would be committing an offence

and/or

  • The owner took all reasonable steps to prevent the driver from committing the offence resulting in the vehicle being impounded. 

Note that the above does not apply if the vehicle was stolen. In this situation it will be returned to the owner.

AA speaking up for motorists

Impoundment helps get dangerous cars and drivers off the road

The AA supports confiscation and impoundment of vehicles because it helps to get dangerous drivers off the road when the driver or car represents a hazard. While we are sympathetic to owners who were not actually driving the car when it was confiscated, owners have a responsibility to ensure only licensed drivers get behind the wheel, and that they use the vehicle responsibly.

We support licence demerit points being used as an alternative penalty when a vehicle is "abandoned" to impoundment because the owner can't pay their fine.

We'd also support a scheme where, as an alternative to impoundment in a storage depot, vehicles are wheel clamped on their owner's property.

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