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Impounding and Confiscation of Vehicles (WA)

If a police officer reasonably suspects that, whilst driving a vehicle, you have committed an offence that is an impounding offence, either related to your driving or your driver’s licence, they must seize and impound the vehicle. This article deals with impounding and confiscation of vehicles in WA.

Impounding Offences (driving)

Generally referred to as “hooning”, the following offences are known impounding driving offences:

  • Driving in a reckless manner (section 60 of the Road Traffic Act 1974);
  • Driving at a reckless speed (section 60A of the Act); and
  • Causing excessive noise or smoke (section 62A of the Act).

Impounding period

For a first offence, your vehicle will be impounded for 28 days.

Should you commit a further impounding driving offence, your vehicle will be impounded for 3 months.

After the impounding period and payment of all costs associated with the impoundment of the vehicle, the vehicle will be returned to you.

Impounding and confiscation of vehicles

Should you repeatedly commit impounding driving offences, the court can make an order confiscating your vehicle or impounding your vehicle for 6 months. This may only occur in certain circumstances and you should seek legal advice should the prosecution make an application to confiscate your vehicle.

Impounding offences (Drivers Licence)

Pursuant to section 49(1)(a) of the Act, you will be subject to vehicle impoundment in the following circumstances:

  • If you have applied for the grant or renewal of a driver’s licence and have been refused;
  • If you have never held a driver’s licence and are disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence for any other reason than a fine suspension;
  • You had a driver’s licence but ceased to hold it for any other reason than voluntarily surrendering your licence, the licence expired or fines suspension; or
  • Your driver’s licence is suspended for another reason other than fines suspension.

Further, your vehicle may be subject to vehicle impoundment should you drive contrary to the conditions on your extraordinary driver’s licence as to time, purpose or location.

In our experience, most people are subject to vehicle impoundment after being disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence by the court.

Your vehicle will be impounded for 28 days.

After the 28-day period and payment of all costs associated with the impoundment of the vehicle, it will be returned to you.

Impounding and confiscation

Should you repeatedly commit a driver’s licence impounding offence, your vehicle may be confiscated by an order of the court or impounded for a period of 6 months.

Impounding for road rage

Should your offence be regarded as aggravated due to road rage, you will be subject to vehicle impoundment.

A road rage offence is an offence which is accompanied by road rage circumstances.

To prove that the offence was committed in circumstances of road rage, the offence must include an element of assault or property damage or a reckless driving offence that is dangerous to a particular victim.

Road rage circumstances exist when an offence is committed whilst the offender is driving in a vehicle on a road and where the victim is using the same road or place, whether the driver or passenger of another vehicle or otherwise.

Early release from impound

In certain circumstances, your vehicle may be released from impound early. This may include the following circumstances:

  • Exceptional hardship;
  • The vehicle was for sale and being test-driven;
  • The offender was not responsible for the vehicle (for example, if it was stolen);
  • The charge against you is withdrawn and there was no reasonable grounds for impounding your vehicle; or
  • The vehicle was used primarily in the course of a business.

Impounding unlicensed motorcycle

Should a police officer reasonably suspect that an unlicensed motorcycle is being used on a road, the motorcycle may be impounded for a period of 28 days.

Surrender notice

In some cases, it may be impracticable to impound the vehicle at the time of the offending. In these circumstances, the police may issue a surrender notice. A surrender notice requires a person to surrender the vehicle to the Commissioner of Police for impounding by a certain date.

A surrender notice must include the following:

  • a statement to the effect that the vehicle was used in the commission of an impounding offence;
  • details of the vehicle to identify it;
  • the time and place of the alleged offence;
  • sufficient details of the offence;
  • if known, the name of the driver;
  • the legislative provision;
  • if the driver is a second or subsequent offender, sufficient details to explain this;
  • the length of the impounding period;
  • the place in which the vehicle is to be impounded; and
  • the last day on or before which the vehicle and its keys are required to be surrendered, being the 7th day on which the notice is given.

If you need hep navigating the complex area of vehicle impounding and confiscation or help in relation to a traffic offence, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Courtney Ashton - Associate - Perth

This article was written by Courtney Ashton - Associate - Perth

Courtney holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Criminology and Justice from Edith Cowan University and a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice from the College of Law. Courtney is a dedicated practitioner who enjoys a challenge and has competently completed many traffic and summary jurisdiction matters. Courtney enjoys advocacy and has appeared in a number of drink driving,...

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