impounded car

Car impounding and the law

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Legal Grounds for Car Impoundment

In the UK, a vehicle can be impounded based on several legal grounds. The main reasons include:

  • Under Section 165A of the Road Traffic Act 1988, police have the authority to seize vehicles being driven without valid insurance.
  • The same section also permits police to impound vehicles if the driver does not have a valid licence appropriate for the vehicle type.
  • If a vehicle has been declared off the road with a SORN but is caught being used on public roads, it can be seized and impounded under the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994.
  • If a vehicle is deemed to be in a dangerous condition, potentially causing a hazard to other road users, it can be seized under the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978.
  • Vehicles that are abandoned without lawful authority can also be removed and impounded under the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978.
  • Under the Traffic Management Act 2004, authorities can seize a vehicle if the owner has repeatedly evaded paying parking penalties.

Impounded Car Release Process

When a vehicle is impounded, the owner is usually given a seizure notice explaining why the vehicle was seized and the steps to retrieve it. The release process typically includes providing proof of identity, proof of ownership, and proof of valid insurance and taxation. The owner also has to pay a release fee and the storage charges incurred during the impoundment period. Failure to reclaim the vehicle within a stipulated period (usually 14 days) may result in the vehicle being disposed of through auction or scrapping.

Impounded Car Insurance

One key legal aspect of retrieving an impounded car is providing proof of valid insurance. This can be complicated as many standard insurance policies do not cover vehicles in impoundment. Therefore, owners may need to obtain specific impounded car insurance, which provides temporary cover for the vehicle, allowing it to be released.

Legal Consequences of Car Impoundment

The consequences of car impoundment go beyond the immediate financial costs and inconvenience. Being caught driving without insurance or a valid licence can result in 6 to 8 penalty points on your licence. If you accumulate 12 or more penalty points within three years, you can be disqualified from driving. Furthermore, having your car impounded can significantly increase your future insurance premiums.

Legal Rights and Protections

Whilst the laws provide authorities with the power to impound vehicles, they also offer protections to vehicle owners. For instance, before seizing a vehicle for no insurance or no licence, the police officer should verify the offence through the Police National Computer. If your car has been wrongly impounded, you can challenge the seizure in court. Also, if the authorities fail to follow the correct procedures in impounding and storing your vehicle, you may have grounds to claim compensation.

The legal consequences of car impoundment can be serious, leading to fines, penalty points, increased insurance premiums, and potential disqualification from driving. However, the law also provides protections for car owners. If you believe your car has been wrongfully impounded, or if the authorities have not followed correct procedures, you should seek legal advice.

Seeking Legal Assistance

If your car is impounded, you might find it helpful to seek legal advice. A solicitor can guide you through the process, helping you understand your rights and responsibilities. They can also help you challenge the impoundment if it was wrongful or if procedures were not correctly followed. Legal assistance can be invaluable in navigating this challenging situation; but bear in mind that it can be expensive!

The Impact on Car Insurance

Car impoundment can have a significant impact on your insurance premiums. Insurers typically view drivers who have had their cars impounded as high risk, which can lead to increased premiums. Therefore, avoiding car impoundment is not only essential for avoiding immediate fees and penalties, but also for maintaining affordable insurance premiums.

Ring 0161 388 2552 for impounded car insurance quotes and advice now!