insurance policies for impounded cars
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When and why your car can be impounded

In the UK there are several legislations that give the police the power to seize and impound vehicles that have been involved in certain serious offences.

The police can also confiscate and impound your vehicle if they think that “it’s being used in a way that causes alarm, harassment or distress”.

So when can the police seize your car?

The police can seize vehicles for a multitude of reasons; usually for serious motoring offences or when the roads will be safer if the car is removed.

Impounding vehicles that are being driven without insurance or a driver’s license

Section 165a of the Road Traffic Act 1988 specifically gives the police power to seize and impound vehicles in cases where the driver appears to be uninsured. The same section of the Road Traffic Act 1988 also allows police to seize vehicles driven by somebody without a driver’s license.

If you are stopped by the police and they find that you don’t have a valid insurance policy or that you don’t have a sufficient driver’s license, they are able to instantly seize your vehicle and remove it from the roadside to be taken to a secure storage compound.

The police aren’t expecting you to carry your insurance certificate with you at all time but you must when asked provide reasonable evidence to confirm that you do have a policy in place. If you cannot provide adequate proof that you have a motor insurance policy the police will check against their databases and impound your car if you are not covered.

The same principle applies if the police think you don’t have a driver’s license or that your license does not cover you for the type of vehicle being driven.

Under this section of the Road Traffic Act the police can charge the owner of the vehicle for the removal, storage and release from the compound of the vehicle. The owner and registered keeper of the vehicle must also take several important documents to the compound before they can release the vehicle, such as their driver’s license, proof that they own the vehicle and a copy of their impounded car insurance certificate.

The compound staff will in most cases check with your insurance provider that they are aware that the vehicle is currently impounded, so it’s important to ensure that you have an impounded car insurance policy.

Vehicles being driven in a manner that could cause “alarm, harassment or distress” or dangerously

Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002 gives the police the power to impound a car that they believe is being driven dangerously or inconsiderately. They can also immediately confiscate on the spot vehicles that are believed to be causing “alarm, distress or annoyance” to the public.

Although this section of the Police Reform Act gives the police the power to stop the driver of vehicles acting in this manner and to remove them from the road side, it does state that in most cases a warning must be given as the first point of action.

If the driver continues their actions or have previously been issued with a warning the vehicle will be seized and impounded.

Cars that have been abandoned or are broken down and illegally or dangerously parked vehicles

Section 99 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 covers police for the removal and impounding of cars that have been left parked illegally or dangerously or that have been abandoned or left broken down and causing an obstruction.

The regulations covering these vehicles sets out that although the police have the right to remove them, it is not their duty to do so. Therefore it is likely that any action will be taken at their discretion.

What happens to a car that has been impounded?

Once the police have notified you that your vehicle is going to be impounded it will either by collected by an approved towing agency or a specially trained officer will drive your vehicle to their local secure storage compound.

The owner and registered keeper of the vehicle will have a fourteen day period in which they can collect the car. If the vehicle is not collected in the two week timescale it will be crushed. However, if it is a particularly valuable model it will be sold off at auction and the funds will be used by the police force in their operations.

To collect an vehicle that has been seized the registered owner must attend the storage compound with a specific list of documents. The compound staff will need to see proof of ownership of the vehicle, a valid driver’s license and a certificate showing that the owner has an impounded car insurance policy that will cover a vehicle that has been seized.