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Who is authorised to impound your vehicle?
In the UK, several regulatory bodies can seize your car such as the police, the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) or the VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency).
However, each authority can only act in specific cases. For example, the police and DVLA can impound your car if it's parked illegally on public property, or if it's untaxed. The Fines Enforcement Officers can also seize your car if you have unpaid fines.
On the other hand, VOSA can only act if they consider your car to be a danger on public roads. This usually happens with commercial vehicles which haven't passed the MOT (Ministry of Transportation) test which assesses roadworthiness levels, or when the driver has not paid the fines issued by VOSA.
When and Why Can Your Vehicle Be Impounded?
According to the UK Law, it can be seized if:
- it's uninsured or driven without a licence (Section 165A – Road Traffic Act 1988);
- you're driving in a dangerous way (Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002);
- it's stolen, and the police find it (PACE);
- it's blocking a public road and considered dangerous;
- it's abandoned, broken down and illegally parked (Section 99 of the Road Traffic Act 1984).
- Your Car Is Uninsured or Driven Without a Licence.
- Under Section 165A of the Road Traffic Act 1988, the police can impound your vehicle if it's uninsured or being driven by someone who doesn't hold a driving licence.
If you're pulled over by the police you should provide evidence of your car's insurance policy and your driver's licence. If you can't provide proof, the police will check their database and if they discover that your vehicle isn't insured or that you don't hold a driver's licence, they can seize your vehicle straight away and take it to the pound.
You'll also receive a 3708-notice relating to the seizure of your car if the police find out from camera footage that your car is not insured or is being driven without a licence.
Dangerous style of driving
The police can impound your car if they believe that you're driving carelessly and consider you to be a hazard on the public roads.
Although under Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002, the police can remove your vehicle from the road and seize it, the law also mentions that if it's your first violation, you should be given a warning and let go.
However, if you continue to drive dangerously after being given a warning, the police may immediately impound your car.
You've Abandoned Your Car/ It's Broken Down/ Parked Illegally
According to Section 99 of the Road Traffic Act 1984, the police can impound your car if you've abandoned it, illegally parked it or if your car is blocking a public road.
Your Car Was Stolen and The Police Found It
If your car is seized under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE), it means that it's a vital part of an ongoing investigation of theft or a different crime. You can only collect your car once the investigation is over and the police will cover any recovery and storage costs. The recovery officer will reach out to you when your car is ready to be picked up.
Recovering Your Vehicle from the Pound
If you've received a 3708-notice relating to your car being impounded for suspicion of being driven without a valid driver's licence or insurance, you should reclaim your car within 7 days of receiving the notice.
If you haven't reclaimed your car within 14 days, or haven't followed the right procedure, the pound can either scrape it or sell it off at an auction.
If your car was impounded for other reasons, then you'll receive a letter informing you about how and when you can collect it.
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