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When a Vehicle Can Be Seized

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 18 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Seized Police Driving Without Insurance

Under certain circumstances the police do have the power to seize a vehicle from a driver. In the UK there are two main reasons why police would seize a vehicle, and driving without insurance is one of the major reasons why vehicles are seized.

Uninsured Drivers and Car Seizure

If the police do suspect that drivers are operating vehicles without insurance they can stop drivers and ask them to produce the documentation. Any driver who fails to produce the documents on the spot is at risk of having their vehicle seized by the police. The police also have this power if they suspect a driver is operating a vehicle without a licence. Driving a Vehicle Without Insurance or a licence on a public road are serious offences.

Uninsured Drivers in the UK

It is estimated that nearly two million UK drivers are driving without insurance. One in five young drivers drive cars without the proper insurance. The cost to other motorists is an estimated £380 million annually in insurance premiums. According to research, uninsured drivers are more likely to be involved in road accidents. There are around 300,000 convictions for drivers without insurance in the UK every year. Driving without insurance can result in fines of up to £5000, six to eight penalty points on a licence and disqualification.

The Cost to Uninsured Drivers

Aside from the punishments handed out from the courts, drivers can also have their cars crushed. Drivers who have their cars seized under this offence have only 14 days to produce the valid insurance documents to the police. Drivers will also have to pay fees such as roadside recovery and secure storage costs. Secure storage costs can be around £15 for every day the car is not claimed. If the vehicle is not claimed within 14 days it can then be destroyed.

Carrying Insurance Documents in a Vehicle

There is no actual legal necessity for drivers to carry insurance documents in a vehicle. The police national database and the insurance database should have the required vehicle information. But it is not uncommon for these databases to be inaccurate. The police should give drivers the opportunity to telephone insurers from the roadside to verify insurance details.

The Power to Seize Vehicles Driven Inconsiderately

The police also have the power to seize vehicles if they have grounds to believe it is being driven without due care and attention. This could mean the vehicle is being driven in a manner that is dangerous or causing distress to other road users. The police then have the power to stop the driver and seize and remove the car. The police also have the power to enter the driver’s property to remove a vehicle if they have witnessed this type of driving. They also have the power to use reasonable force if necessary to seize a vehicle.

Police Warnings when Seizing a Vehicle

The police do have to give warnings that they are going to seize a driver’s vehicle. This is the case for both uninsured drivers and drivers driving in an irresponsible manner. But the police do not have to give a careless driver a warning of seizure if the driver has been warned on a previous occasion. This warning could have been given in the previous 12 months and by another police officer. The warning can also be disregarded if the police have previously issued a warning to the driver who at the time was driving a different vehicle.

Reclaiming a Seized Vehicle

There are certain rules for drivers who can reclaim their vehicles if they have been seized. These rules will include:

  • Valid insurance and licence details must be shown
  • If a fixed penalty was issued payment must be made in full
  • All costs must be paid including secure storage and roadside recovery
  • Vehicles will only released to the registered owner or someone appearing on behalf of the owner
  • Owners have 14 days within which to claim the seized vehicle
  • Continual offenders may have their vehicles seized and crushed
The penalties and punishments for driving without insurance or driving inconsiderately do reflect the seriousness of these traffic offences. Driving without insurance can be extremely costly to the driver. Harsher punishments are available to the courts for uninsured drivers who are involved in road accidents that cause injury or lead to loss of life.

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I've had my car seized by the police Todd for not having insurance. Thing is I did have insurance but apparently the insurance company cancelled the policy abt a month ago. I did not however receive any correspondence from them to that effect. I didn't notice either because I've been with them for abt 3 years and I pay by direct debit. What can I argue?
Nii - 18-May-17 @ 1:26 PM
Oakt- Your Question:
I bought a car through private sale, was stopped driving it home, fined 300 and 6 points, I thought this was allowed and had 7 days to produce document, how else was I to get car home

Our Response:
As long as you had the car taxed, MOT'd and insured you shouldn't have received a penalty.
NoPenaltyPoints - 5-May-17 @ 1:49 PM
I bought a car through private sale, was stopped driving it home, fined 300 and 6 points, I thought this was allowed and had 7 days to produce document, how else was I to get car home
Oakt - 5-May-17 @ 7:17 AM
Minhon - Your Question:
On June 2015 I was driving and was striped by police as my van did not appear to be on the insurance data base, I thought the money was taking out my account but it wasn't, anyway! Have gone to court and fined £500 plus 6 points on my licence.Nearly two years down the road I decided to sell my van as I fell ill with cancer and had to have a surgery and could not work for nearly 3 months. The rent and every other bill pulled up so I slowly got back to work but had to put the van for sale to pay for outstanding rent and other bills, so I cancel the van insurance and road tax and let it parked in Sainsbury's car park as I had put the van up for sale online. I went to move the van from one place to another inside Sainsbury's car park and then I was approached by police officer saying the van showed up as not insured, I explained everything to him but they would not have any of it and the van was towed away and now I face a second charge for no insurance and the prospect of losing my licence which I need to survive as I'm a self-employed builder and that's how I pay for my bills and provide for myself and my two daughters as I'm a single parent.I cannot face not being able to work and being able to support my girls.I know it sounds a little tragic but that's what it is.Any ideas on how I could go about this one?Thank you

Our Response:
The only way that you might get this reduced is to appeal, go to court and explain your circumstances. Citizens's Advice might be able to tell you if you can get any free/cheap legal support.
NoPenaltyPoints - 28-Mar-17 @ 10:36 AM
On June 2015 I was driving and was striped by police as my van did not appear to be on the insurance data base, I thought the money was taking out my account but it wasn't, anyway! Have gone to court and fined £500 plus 6 points on my licence. Nearly two years down the road I decided to sell my van as I fell ill with cancer and had to have a surgery and could not work for nearly3 months. The rent and every other bill pulled up so I slowly got back to work but had to put the van for sale to pay for outstanding rent and other bills, so I cancel the van insurance and road tax and let it parked in Sainsbury's car park as I had put the van up for sale online. I went to move the van from one place to another inside Sainsbury's car park and then I was approached by police officer saying the van showed up as not insured, I explained everything to him but they would not have any of it and the van was towed away and now I face a second charge for no insurance and the prospect of losing my licence which I need to survive as I'm a self-employed builder and that's how i pay for my bills and provide for myself and my two daughters as I'm a single parent. I cannot face not being able to work and being able to support my girls. I know it sounds a little tragic but that's what it is. Any ideas on how I could go about this one? Thank you
Minhon - 26-Mar-17 @ 2:47 PM
Dazzle - Your Question:
My girlfriend believed she had payed her car insurance, and didn't realised it wasn't payed till she was pulled over and had her car siezed for not having insurance we have no documents to say she has payed insurance either which won't help, Her work is 20 miles away and she desperately needs a vehicle to get to work, can she be insured on my car or will that land us in further trouble? I don't know the next step any help anyone?

Our Response:
She should be able to contact her insurance or yours for advice on this. The police might also be able to say what action will be taken. Unless there are other factors involved she should be able to insure her car and pay the release fee.
NoPenaltyPoints - 22-Mar-17 @ 12:53 PM
My girlfriend believed she had payed her car insurance, and didn't realised it wasn't payed till she was pulled over and had her car siezed for not having insurance we have no documents to say she has payed insurance either which won't help,Her work is 20 miles away and she desperately needs a vehicle to get to work, can she be insured on my car or will that land us in further trouble? I don't know the next step any help anyone?
Dazzle - 19-Mar-17 @ 4:25 PM
Torquel - Your Question:
My car has been parked in a residential car parked for the last 6 months on the block of flats that I live,it was not insured but taxed,my question is can I be prosecuted for an uninsured vehicle ?

Our Response:
Yes if it's used by other people and is not on your private land, it should be insured.
NoPenaltyPoints - 17-Feb-17 @ 12:23 PM
Ching- Your Question:
I've had my car impounded today as am a provisional driver it was insured but in a freinds name the car is in my name im told the only way of getting my car is for someone with a full licence and insurence on my car can collect it so if my sister insured the car for the day in her name wud she be able to collect it ???

Our Response:
Yes if she has a full licence.
NoPenaltyPoints - 16-Feb-17 @ 12:39 PM
My car has been parked in a residential car parked for the last 6 months on the block of flats that I live,it was not insured but taxed,my question is can I be prosecuted for an uninsured vehicle ?
Torquel - 16-Feb-17 @ 12:37 PM
I've had my car impounded today as am a provisional driver it was insured but in a freinds name the car is in my name im told the only way of getting my car is for someone with a full licence and insurence on my car can collect it so if my sister insured the car for the day in her name wud she be able to collect it ???
Ching - 15-Feb-17 @ 10:29 PM
Hi I had my car taken off from me after I crashed it into a ditch basically then a police car behind me then got involved for no reason started saying I failed to stop but he was about a mile away or so but the officer said he was taking my car for inspection even after I had my own recovery truck there within 10 minutes or so refusing to answer my questions on what reason he had took my car to the impound without giving me any paper work what so ever at all and said something about a caution and told me to go home and he'll give me a call soon... I have no idea what to do in this circumstance also the vechile is insured as modified and their recovery truck damaged my car even more so after I told them to stop because they were breaking the front end apart. Any advice on this would be much appreciated. I do belive this isn't the correct procedure at all what so ever he didn't even seem to known what he was doing.
Chrisg - 10-Feb-17 @ 7:46 AM
Rattle - Your Question:
I am currently on holiday in Australia for 4 weeks.My son used my car with my permission whilst I was away. However as he was not on my insurance cover, the car was impounded. It appears the only way to get it out of the police pound is for me to fly home 3 weeks early and collect it myself as I'm the only person with cover as my son cannot obtain any insurance cover from any company.Question. Can I get the car collected from the police pound on a low loader and delivered back to my home if they are provided with my fully valid insurance cover certificate?

Our Response:
If a recovery vehicle were to be used (ie so the car was not driven on the roads), or if someone were to drive the vehicle under their own insurance cover, we do not see this as being an issue for the police.
NoPenaltyPoints - 7-Feb-17 @ 2:23 PM
I am currently on holiday in Australia for 4 weeks. My son used my car with my permission whilst I was away. However as he was not on my insurance cover, the car was impounded. It appears the only way to get it out of the police pound is for me to fly home 3 weeks early and collect it myself as I'm the only person with cover as my son cannot obtain any insurance cover from any company. Question. Can I get the car collected from the police pound on a low loader and delivered back to my home if they are provided with my fully valid insurance cover certificate?
Rattle - 6-Feb-17 @ 5:56 PM
Garryhonda - Your Question:
Vehicle stolen and it seems was stopped in Hounslow area.car is taxed insured Mot'd all legal.I am policyholder and my son named driver.my question is.the vehicle is totally legal stolen by person unknown to me why not just contact me tell me where to collect from.job over.why impound the car.

Our Response:
The two departments maybe completely separate and they probably haven't communicated with each other. Sometimes vehicles are impounded after they've been stolen/recovered in order to await collection by the owner.
NoPenaltyPoints - 21-Nov-16 @ 2:18 PM
Vehicle stolen and it seems was stopped in Hounslow area...car is taxed insured Mot'd all legal....I am policyholder and my son named driver...my question is....the vehicle is totally legal stolen by person unknown to me why not just contact me tell me where to collect from....job over....why impound the car....
Garryhonda - 19-Nov-16 @ 12:48 PM
Hi I had a mix up with my insurance and hadn't realised the car was insured. I was stopped by the police and they then called the recovery company in my area. But before I could go back to collect the car there was an arson attack at the compound. For which I paid storage charges Now what I want to know is whether the police are in breach of contract as I will find it difficult to prove any negligence as it was an arson attack not connected to my car
Scott - 17-Nov-16 @ 8:13 PM
Hi my partners vehicle was seized at a football game where he was parked on a corner. My question is how can they justify seizing his veichle and no ones else's vehicle when they are Parked the same way? Is there any way I can contest this? Thank you in advance.
J - 27-Sep-16 @ 10:33 PM
Hi all, want a bit of advice on this one, long and short my van got seized. So events was police car pulls out from their pound, cutting me up so I horned. They pulled over and I drove pass. Few hundred feet down the road they pull me over for no valid insurance at that point in time. So they as to look in the back of the van which had stock and work tools, I'm a part time builder and full time office warehouse manager, where I do building work for as well. So my insurance is social/domestic and commute to and from permenante place of work. I was driving home at the time from the warehouse. It even says on the 3708/14 form. Only thing is they also ticked vehicle use business and rewards which I was not. So what do you all think, where do I stand on this.
Gary Leung - 22-Aug-16 @ 9:04 PM
A friend has broken down today, just after a roundabout. She organised aa to attend, and was moved to a safe place by aa. Recovery was on its way, but the police have seized the vehicle and not given a reason.Aa were present, and confirmed that recovery was coming, yet police still removed the car.Now impounded, no way to pay to remove it until Monday. Have the police acted legally? Never heard of anything like this, it's not like the car was abandoned or left on purpose! Any advice welcome!
nightminder - 19-Aug-16 @ 8:21 PM
I bought a Suzuki sv1000 for when I pass my test since I currently only hold a provisional lisence I got the Moter cycle dropped at my home addres for repairs bcos it needed to be done bcos leavin bikes stood without oil in can be bad for the engine and I had to get it sorted I can't get the bike in my garden bcos of the steps so I had to repair it near my garden gate anyhow I'd fixed the bike and was inside gettin a shower wen the police banged on my door they've seized an compounded my bike sayin if I get insured as a policy holder with a rider onit and profe of ownership I can have it back but I'm findin that no insurance will do that for me can anybody help me plz it's a 3000 pound bike an I don't have long left to recover it I had a mate with a trailer an a van so it don't even have to be ridden ?????????
Coombzy - 25-Jun-16 @ 9:16 AM
Every person is insured by the British national insurance number as the person is the named commercial vessel that is employed fir profit or reward through the crown which is the Vatican ALL CAR SEIZURES GAVE BEEN JLAWFUL AND LIKE P P I.IT NEEDS AGROUP ACTION FOR REDRESSThe cestui que vie act 1666 a evil deceptive act declaring us dead lost at sea at birth so we became a asset on a war warrant debt.I had a truck stolen off a castle estate by corrupt Derbyshire constabulary who appear to be profiteering. As they will not disclose where any monies have gone there contractor richfords motor services limited of alfreton have multi million assets but classed as. Small business exempt for companies house accounting and constabulary use Derbyshire police vehicle recovery on the seizure docs that were never signed. This appears not to be Derbyshire constabulary but a private company that may be associated with the newly reformed N P C C ( national police chiefs council ) remember these were called A C P O but found to be profiteering in 2014 and the Parker review told them to cease activities. Yet they still use the. a c p o Contact address on n p c c.Web site
. - 9-Jun-16 @ 9:27 PM
Hi, I was stopped for no insurance unbeknown to me and my car was impounded,the lack of insurance was down to my insurance company,when I tried to retrieve my car I was told I couldn't do so without specialist insurance,I can't get this as I'm currently unemployed,I feel like my car has been stolen off my by the police,any ideas on how I can get it back?? I took a driving conviction with mitigating circumstances and a fine but in my eye's the car is still mine????
Biggen - 28-May-16 @ 6:36 PM
All of these so stories.People need to get a grip.Ooooo I didn't know I was disqualified.I didn't know I wasnt Insured.If you weren't breaking the law you wouldn't have your car seized.Simple.
Davy - 29-Apr-16 @ 5:00 PM
Don't forget 30p to urinate ...takes the p**s
Trev - 12-Apr-16 @ 8:21 PM
No doubt there are dangerous drivers on the road without insurance whose cars need to be removed of the highways. Over the last few years it's more to do with making money, and an extortion amount of money. Releasing a vehicle could cost several hundred pounds as well as a lot of stress. Not to forget the 5p on the carrier back and £1 for an airport trolley! England! Is not rich for no reason, it thrives upon the misery of individuals in this country. Rise up and tell the. To F of
Crystals - 23-Mar-16 @ 4:25 PM
I would like to say the police have seem to have there own laws and most times you can't win against them some of the comments are very upsetting and I feel sorry for the people involved
Slim - 10-Mar-16 @ 10:01 AM
After my car was a nice convertible BMWand to top it all charges put against me for driving no insurance unknowingly ... I lost all desire to own or drive any vehicle any longer. It seems this horrid unreasonable bullies can come and take it off you any time and also inctiminate and fine youover your worth... i sincerely am frightened owning any vehicle. whats the point ? Everything is for their taking they are the legal thieves funded by our taxes whats the point ? :'(I lost my car. I lost my job. I am terribly depressed. I am 45 yrs old and have never ever caused an Accident but ... May be its for the best. One less worry in Life. One less bullying point for the Thugs in Uniform.
Mums the Word - 15-Sep-15 @ 8:10 PM
The police seized my vehicle as I was stopped for an out of date mot. The police did a check on me and it came back saying I was disqualified from driving and therefore no insurance so they seized and impounded my car. I was unaware of the ban as I was convicted in court in my absence. Obviously I then had to go back to court as was driving while disqualified even though I was unaware of my disqualification. After going to court and giving evidence the magistrates gave a total discharge for the driving whilst banned and no further punishment was issued. I also showed proof of my insurance so that charge was dropped also. My query regards the disposal of the car as it was disposed of 14 days after impound as I couldn't get it out from the compound as I was a banned driver. Is there any way I can get any compensation for the loss of car as the courts agreed to drop any charges of diving while banned/no insurance when the car was taken off me. Any advice would be much appreciated
Sowboy - 20-Jul-15 @ 9:32 PM
@Peter. It does seem harsh but as he was not displaying L plates then the offence is of not driving in accordance with his licence is correct. Most police officers would have let him of with a warning in this situation, was he also doing something else to attract their attention do you think?
NoPenaltyPoints - 1-Jul-15 @ 10:39 AM
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