Questions we answer in this guide:
- When can the police seize or impound a vehicle?
- How do you release a seized or impounded vehicle?
- What are the penalties for failing to collect a seized or impounded vehicle?
When can the police seize or impound a vehicle?
The police have the power to seize your vehicle if:
- You're driving without adequate car insurance cover
- Your driver’s license doesn’t certify you to drive that type of vehicle
- Your driving is inconsiderate, careless or dangerous and is causing alarm or distress to others
- You've broken down, abandoned or illegally parked your vehicle where it's dangerous to do so or is causing an obstruction
- The vehicle has been reported as stolen
- The vehicle is suspected to have been involved in a crime
Releasing a seized vehicle
The police may issue you with a seizure notice if you were driving without insurance. You'll have seven working days from the date of the offence to reclaim your vehicle.
If your vehicle was seized for any other reason, the police will send you a notice letter letting you know when it's ready for collection.
It's the responsibility of the legal owner (i.e. registered keeper) of the vehicle to reclaim it from the police. You'll need to bring a valid proof of identity, driving license and up-to-date insurance, MOT and tax documents along with your proof of ownership of the vehicle.
Exceptions can be made if the registered owner is unable to collect the vehicle themselves; i.e. if they’re abroad or unwell. And if the vehicle isn't roadworthy, you'll have to arrange for collection by a third-party recovery operator.
If you decide the vehicle isn't worth collecting, you'll be charged a disposal charge and the police can then either destroy your vehicle or sell it at auction.
Penalties for failing to pay the charges or to collect a vehicle from police
When collecting your vehicle, you may have to pay a release fee and additional charges per day or part day as a storage fee.
Uninsured drivers face the very real prospect of having their vehicle destroyed if they fail to respond to a seizure notice in time.
Want to know more about motoring law?
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