tow truck taking away an impounded car

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Your vehicle has been clamped. What now?

Vehicles in the UK can be clamped for a number of reasons. These include the non-payment of VED (Vehicle Excise Duty) or road tax; for not having insurance; for the non-payment of parking fines and by a bailiff for outstanding debts.

Who is Authorised to Fix Wheel Clamps?

Under the terms of the Road Traffic Regulations Act of 1984, wheel clamps can only be fixed to a vehicle on the public highway by authorised bodies who have been given their powers by Acts of Parliament or local bye-laws. These include:

It is possible that clamping might be contracted out to a private firm. However, any firm carrying out clamping must be licensed by the SIA (Security Industry Authority).

Clamping on private land

Since the 2012 Protections of Freedom Act it has become a criminal offence to clamp vehicles on private land without legal authority in all parts of the UK except Northern Ireland.

Clamping for Non-payment of Road Tax – What to Do

When a vehicle is clamped, a notice is attached to the wheel of the vehicle and/or its windscreen. This gives details of why the vehicle has been clamped, how it can be released and a contact telephone number.

If the reason for clamping is for not possessing valid road tax or for being in breach of a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification), then the owner of the vehicle will have to pay a fixed release fee of £100 and arrange for the road tax to be paid immediately. If they do both within 24 hours, their vehicle will be de-clamped.

If 24 hours elapse and the owner does not do this, the vehicle could be impounded by the authorities. In this case, they will have to pay a security deposit (or surety) of £160 for cars and motorcycles and up to £700 for other vehicles. This deposit will be refunded if vehicle tax is paid within 14 days. The release fee is doubled to £200, and the vehicle owner also has to pay £21 per day for storage charges. The DVLA also have the right to crush vehicles after 7 days if nothing is done. Owners will also be taken to court and as a result, pay a fine of £1,000 plus the arrears owed for the unpaid road tax and will be liable for all court costs.

Can I remove a clamp myself?

Unauthorised removal of wheel clamps by the car owner is a criminal offence. If owners feel the clamping is unfair, they should pay the release fee and instigate the appeal procedure to have the fee refunded.

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