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.
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).
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.
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.
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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