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Impoundment and Confiscation of Vehicles

Sometimes, when misuse of a vehicle takes place such as driving while under the influence of drink and drugs, the police have the powers to impound the vehicle temporarily. This is when a motor vehicle is taken by police and stored in a safe place until it is returned to the person who owns it. Impounding can take place when a court makes an order to do so.    

Confiscation goes a step further than impounding as the vehicle is permanently removed from the owner. A court may order confiscation.

When can Impounding and Confiscation Take Place?

The Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA) determines when these actions can take place.  There are three categories of offences that can result in these actions. 

The 1st category is called driving impounding offences and are related to the way a driver operates a vehicle. The impounding must take place before 28 days have passed since the offence and then the police will send out a surrender notice demanding that the person responsible for the motor vehicle surrender it within seven days. 

The 2nd category includes offences to do with the driver's licence. These are referred to as driver’s licence impounding offences. The impounding can take place immediately or before 28 days has passed.

The 3rd are offences are road rage offences and a court can only demand impounding.

Driving Impounding Offences Include:

reckless driving;

  • driving above 155 km/h;
  • driving above 45+ km/h passed the stated speed limit;
  • making excessive noise or emitting excessive smoke.

Driver's licence impounding offences include:

  • driving without being in possession of a valid licence when a licence application has been denied;
  • driving without being in possession of a valid licence when you have do not have a licence and you have been disqualified from driving by a court;
  • driving without  being in possession of a valid licence because you no longer hold one;
  • driving without a being in possession of a valid licence because your licence has been suspended but not under a fines suspension.
  •  Offences which are road rage related include:
  • endangering a person due to reckless driving;
  • assaulting or damaging a person’s property in a road incident or a place where the public can access.
  •  Confiscation

If a driver is convicted of a driving impounding offence or a driver’s licence impounding offence twice in 5 years the court will, in most situations, confiscate the vehicle.  Offences involving road rage the court may have the vehicle confiscated.  When a motor vehicle is confiscated it becomes state property and can be sold. The amount collected from the sale will be used help to pay the cost of the sale.

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