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Car Impoundment

Car Impoundment

A police enforcement officer may be able to seize or impound your car under the law.

This section informs you about what to expect when your car is impounded.

When can the police seize and impound my car?

An enforcement officer (police) must seize and impound a motor vehicle for 28 days if the officer has reason to believe that you drove the vehicle on a road while:

  • You were disqualified from driving;
  • Your driver’s licence is already suspended/revoked;
  • You didn’t hold a driver licence and had been previously forbidden to drive (eg. unlicensed driver or your licence had expired);
  • Drink-driving for the third or more times within four years;
  • If you are caught racing or doing stunts with your car on the road;
  • And others.

What is the procedure for seizing and impounding my car?

The police must give you a copy of the written notice of their intention to seize and impound your vehicle. The notice will tell you the date and time of the seizure, where the impounded vehicle is and what your rights to challenge the decision are.

Your vehicle will be impounded for 28 days unless the Police release it earlier or you successfully appeal against it being impounded.

How can I appeal an impoundment notice?

You may appeal to the Police for the following reasons:

  • The vehicle was stolen at the time;
  • The enforcement officer at the time of the seizure didn’t have good reason or follow the right procedure to impound the vehicle;
  • You (being the owner of the car) didn’t know and couldn’t reasonably have been expected to know that the driver was not licensed;
  • You (being the owner of the car) took all reasonable steps to prevent the unlicensed driver from driving or street racing;
  • The driver of the vehicle drove the vehicle in a medical emergency.

You have 14 days to appeal to the Commissioner of Police. You may be able to fill out a statutory declaration at your local police branch.

What should I do if the police reject my impoundment appeal?

If you want to continue your appeal after unsuccessfully appealing to the police, you may then attempt your appeal at the District Court. You have 28 days to do this. You must challenge the decision for the same reasons as before because the court will not look into any new issues.

The court can either:

  • direct the vehicle to be released immediately to the owner or an authorised person; or
  • dismiss your appeal.

How can I get my car back once it’s been impounded?

At the end of the 28 days, you need to go to the storage provider where your car is being held. You must take some form of photo ID and a document proving that you own the vehicle (the impoundment notice will do). Once you’ve paid all of the towing and storage fees or entered an agreement to do so, you’ll get your car back.

You must pick up your car within 10 days after the impoundment period is finished. You have to keep paying storage fees for every day that the car is held by the storage provider.

What happens if I do not pick up my impounded car in time?

The storage provider can apply to the police for permission to get rid of your car after the end of the 10 days, if they don’t want to wait any longer for you to pick it up.

In some cases, the police might also put a ‘Green sticker’ on your car when it is impounded. This means that they consider the car not to be roadworthy. If your car has a Green sticker, you can still pick it up from the storage provider. But you aren’t allowed to drive it anywhere except to get a new Warrant of Fitness.

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