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Driving a vehicle is a privilege that comes with certain responsibilities. While most drivers adhere to traffic rules and regulations, there are instances where a vehicle may be impounded by the police.
This action is taken in accordance with the law to ensure public safety and deter reckless behaviour on the roads. In New South Wales, there are specific circumstances under which a vehicle may be impounded.
Vehicle impoundment is the legal process of temporarily seizing a vehicle and placing it in an impound lot. This action is typically taken by law enforcement agencies to address various issues, including traffic violations, public safety concerns, or criminal activity associated with the vehicle.
The Law In NSW
Section 239 of the Act outlines the authority granted to the police in NSW concerning vehicle impoundment. A police officer has the right to:
If your plates were taken by the authorities, it is prohibited for you to operate the vehicle until you retrieve your original plates. Driving with counterfeit plates or without proper identification carries a maximum fine of $3,300.
Dangerous driving encompasses a range of behaviours that put the safety of others at risk. This can include excessive speeding over the speed limit, careless driving, reckless driving, and aggressive driving. If you are caught engaging in dangerous driving, your vehicle may be impounded as a means of deterring such behaviour and protecting the public.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a significant threat to road safety. In NSW, strict penalties are imposed on individuals caught driving while intoxicated. Alongside fines and licence suspension, the vehicle involved may be impounded as an additional measure to discourage drink driving. In addition, it may lead to NSW police impounding your vehicle.
Illegal Street Racing
Illegal street racing is a dangerous activity that not only poses a threat to participants but also to innocent bystanders. To combat this issue, NSW police may impound vehicles involved in illegal racing activities. This serves as a deterrent and helps maintain the safety of public roads.
Police Pursuit and Evasion
If you attempt to evade police during a pursuit, it is a serious traffic offence in NSW. In such situations, the vehicle may be impounded, and the driver may face additional charges related to evading law enforcement.
For individuals who have a history of multiple traffic violations, especially those related to dangerous driving or driving without a licence, their vehicle may be impounded as a measure to prevent further violations.
In cases where a vehicle is causing a public nuisance, such as excessive noise or disturbances, the police may impound the vehicle to restore peace and order in the community.
When a driver commits any of the aforementioned serious driving offences, the NSW Police have the authority to implement vehicle sanctions. These sanctions may include:
When a vehicle is impounded, the owner is typically notified, and they are required to pay various fees, including towing and storage charges, before the vehicle can be released. In some cases, the vehicle may be subject to a mandatory impoundment period, after which it can be reclaimed.
Understanding the reasons why a vehicle may be impounded by the police in NSW is crucial for every driver. It not only helps ensure compliance with the law but also promotes safer roads for everyone. To avoid such situations, it is imperative to drive responsibly, maintain proper vehicle registration, and adhere to traffic regulations.
Typically, your vehicle will be subject to a three-month impoundment period, unless you successfully apply to the Local Court for an earlier release of your vehicle.
In either scenario, you will incur charges for the relocation, towing, and storage of your car. It’s worth noting that, somewhat controversially, the law shields both the police and the RMS from any responsibility for any harm or theft that may occur to your vehicle during its impoundment, including potential damages.
However, the Commissioner of Police is obligated to take ‘reasonable steps’ to ensure the safety of impounded vehicles against theft or harm. If your licence plates sustain damage during removal, the RMS is obligated to furnish you with a replacement pair at the conclusion of the confiscation period.
As per section 252 of the Road Transport Act, the Commissioner of Police retains the authority to auction off your vehicle in a public sale should you fail to retrieve it. Seized cars may also be utilised for purposes such as crash testing and educational driving programs.
If you have been charged with a serious traffic offence and need legal advice, contact our traffic lawyers in Sydney. We will provide you free legal advice for up to 15 minutes over the phone and review your case.