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Impoundment of motor vehicles – what you need to know

Potts Lawyers > Criminal Law & Offences  > Impoundment of motor vehicles – what you need to know

Impoundment of motor vehicles – what you need to know

These are the questions we frequently receive from clients who are subjected to our vehicle impoundment laws:

  • Can the police take my car?
  • How can I get my car back?
  • How long will the police keep my car?

These questions often come from a place of stress and uncertainty when someone is charged with offences that trigger vehicle impoundment laws.

This article aims to clarify when your vehicle could be impounded, how long the vehicle could be impounded for and the circumstances in which the vehicle may be released early.


Will the police impound my vehicle?

Our law allows the police to impound your vehicle if it has been involved in a “prescribed offence” under Chapter 4 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act.


What is a prescribed offence?

A prescribed offence is:-

– a motorbike noise order offence; or

– a vehicle-related offence.


What is a motorbike noise order offence?

A motorbike noise order offence involves a person disobeying a noise abatement order given in relation to excessive noise made by a motorbike being driven on a place other than a road.


What is a “vehicle related” offence?

A vehicle related offence comes in two forms – Type 1 and Type 2.

Any of the following offences committed in circumstances that involve a speed trial, a race between motor vehicles, or a burn out are classified as Type 1 offences:

The following are classified as type 2 offences:

If you’re charged with any of the above offences your vehicle can be impounded.

Upon being charged the police may issue you a “vehicle production notice” requiring you to produce the vehicle at a stated time and place for impoundment, or immobilisation.


How long will my vehicle be impounded for?

The time your vehicle will be impounded depends upon the type of offence involved, and whether you have been subjected to the impoundment provisions previously.

Concerning type 1 offences, if you have not been charged before, the police will impound your vehicle for 90 days.

However, if:

  • you have been charged with another type 1 offence within 5 years, and that charge has not been finalised; or
  • you have been previously found guilty of another type 1 offence within 5 years;

Your vehicle will be impounded until the end of the proceedings for all charges. Depending on how you intend to deal with the charges, this could be for a considerable period.

With respect to type 2 offences, your car will not be impounded for your first offence within a five-year period.

However, your car will be impounded for 7 days for your second type 2 related offence, or for 90 days for a third offence.


Can I retrieve my vehicle early?

If you’re the owner or the usual driver of the impounded vehicle you can apply to the Commissioner of Police for release of that vehicle under certain circumstances.

These circumstances include:-

  • suffering severe financial hardship if you’re deprived of your means of earning a living;
  • suffering severe physical hardship;
  • the traffic offence in question was committed without the consent of the owner;
  • the circumstances giving rise to a “relevant Type 2” offence have since been rectified (for example, payment of outstanding vehicle registration fees); and
  • the grounds of the impoundment were unreasonable.

After considering all material provided in support of your application the Commissioner will either grant or refuse your application.

This decision is usually made within 5 business days.


My application for early release has been refused, can I appeal?

Should you disagree with the decision made by the Commissioner, you can appeal that decision in the Magistrate Court.


Is it possible that my vehicle will be forfeited?

Your vehicle will be forfeited to the state (i.e. taken forever by the government) if any of the following situations apply:-

  • if you’re found guilty of a second or subsequent type 1 offence within 5 years; or
  • if you’re found guilty of 3 type 2 related offences committed within 5 years and are then found guilty of a fourth subsequent type 2 related offence.

You, or a particular type of person affected by the decision, can oppose the forfeiture.


Why does this all matter?

It is stressful enough being charged and having to deal with our criminal justice system.

This stress is amplified when your vehicle is taken from you and you have no idea how long you may be without it. It’s natural to have a flurry of questions you need answered should your vehicle be impounded.

If you’re in this position, don’t hesitate to contact our team.


Contact Potts Lawyers for Legal Advice

The best thing you can do is speak to an expert traffic lawyer who is familiar with the laws relating not only to impoundment but all type 1 and 2 offences.

We will work tirelessly to defend your case and ensure that you receive the best possible outcome.

Request a free online consultation or call our Gold Coast Law Office on (07) 5532 3133 or our Brisbane Law Office on (07) 3221 4999 for assistance from our team of expert Criminal Lawyers & Traffic Lawyers.


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