This question often comes up in conversations where there is a party that has had their vehicle impounded or know someone that has had their vehicle impounded. This is often a result of the fear of losing a vehicle permanently and the need to understand what provisions there are for them with regards to getting the vehicle back in record time.
Before we dive into answering this very foreboding question, let us consider the reasons for which your vehicle can be impounded in the first place and consider how to avoid those before we consider what your options are or would be when you have defaulted and your vehicle has been impounded.
The Police Officer must impound your vehicle for about twenty-eight days if the following are proven against you;
- If you drive while being disqualified to drive or with a revoked or suspended license,
- If you drive while having breached the alcohol interlock license,
- If you drive without a valid license and when you have been forbidden previously to drive by the police until you have gotten yourself a license or until you have renewed your old one.
- If you drive while being above the 400 microgram breath-alcohol limit or 80 milligram blood-alcohol limit,
- If you breach a byelaw for anti-cruising when there is already a 90-day warning in effect for a breach you committed earlier of the same byelaw or one similar,
- If you engage in street racing or you participate in wheel spins,
Then the police officer or the force has a right to impound your vehicle for 28 days.
When the police officer impounds your vehicle, they will request for a tow truck which will come to take your vehicle away to a storage yard after which the police officer is expected to fill out a notice of impound, following the appropriate format and providing you with copies as the owner and to the company that operates the tow truck.
Your personal items inside an impounded vehicle must be handed over to you as soon as you provide convincing evidence that the items are legally yours or that the vehicle is legally yours.
It is expected that your vehicle be released to you if the police decide against prosecuting you, or if you are cleared of the charges during prosecution. Also, it is expected that your vehicle be handed over to you if you provide a current driver’s license and offset the bills for towing and storage in a case where the impound was as a result of you being an unlicensed driver.
An appeal can be made for the release of your vehicle on the following grounds
- If the officer did not give you sufficient or proper notice of impound,
- Where there was an emergency and you had no choice but to drive anyways; for example, a woman was in labor and you were the only one available to drive her to the hospital,
- Where the officer is outside the law or doesn’t possess the legal right to impound your vehicle.
When the 28 days of holding your vehicle on impound are completed, you are expected to go to the storage yard with a valid ID and the notice of impound given to you by the police officer or a document that serves as proof of your ownership of the vehicle. Then you’ll be expected to pay the accumulated charges for towing and storage of the impound vehicle. After this, your vehicle is released to you.
If after 28 days you haven’t come for your vehicle, the towing company wait for a space of 10 days before applying for approval to sell the vehicle or dispose of it however they deem fit.