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To impound or not to impound?

Impounded Car

ACT police have wide powers to seize, and hold, your vehicle for up to several months when you are alleged to have committed burn-outs, engage in races or attempts on speed, or fail to stop for police.

Should police not seize your vehicle on the same day of the offence, they retain the power to seize the vehicle for up to ten days, and impound the vehicle until the earlier of the following occurs:


  • You receive an infringement notice of the offence;
  • If prosecution is not started within 28 days – the end of the 28 day period;
  • Your matter is finalised at Court;
  • If you have no history of similar offending within 5 years of the date of commission of the alleged offence, the end of the 3-month period after the day the vehicle is seized, even if your matter is yet to be finalised at Court.

It is also important to know that even if police elect not to seize your vehicle, it can still be impounded by the Court. After pleading guilty to the above offences, the Court will typically be required to impose an Order impounding your vehicle for 6 months where there is a history of similar offending, or 3 months where there is no such history.

To avoid losing your vehicle, you must demonstrate to the Court that imposing the Order would cause excessive hardship or other injustice to anyone. For example, you possess a work vehicle and are caught doing a burn-out by police, the vehicle is not seized. You go to Court, plead guilty and are convicted. The Court then considers whether to make an Order impounding the vehicle. Your legal representative raises the argument that the vehicle belongs to your employer, and should it be impounded, the business will be unable to use the vehicle to generate income, causing excessive hardship to your employer. In consideration of this, the Court exercises its discretion and the vehicle is not impounded.

It is important to know the potential sentencing options and Orders available to the Court, or indeed if your matter is one that might be thoroughly contested on a plea of not guilty. At Armstrong Legal we believe that you should always seek advice from a criminal lawyer. The team at Armstrong Legal deal only in criminal and traffic matters, and can assist with any matter on the criminal calendar.

Image Credit – fosterss ©

Written by Cara Maynard on October 16, 2019

Before joining the team at Armstrong Legal, Cara worked as a DNA expert preparing and giving DNA evidence in criminal trials. In this role she liaised with police, DPP and defence practitioner regarding a variety of matters including DNA transfer, deposition and recovery.

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