Everything you need to release your seized car
There’s no denying that 2016 has been the year of the impounded car, with official statistics showing that there has been a sharp rise in the number of vehicles seized by police forces across the UK.
The police have the power to seize vehicles under section 165a of the Road Traffic Act if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that the driver either does not have valid insurance or is not driving within accordance of their license.
Uninsured drivers have long been a major problem in the UK with an estimated yearly cost of £400m that’s being passed on to law abiding motorists. Nationwide operations to crack down on uninsured and unlicensed drivers have lead to over 22,500 cars, vans and motorcycles being taken off the roads in just the first six months of this year causing a spike in the demand for cheap impounded car insurance.
Police forces are making millions of pounds by selling the impounded vehicles that aren’t collected in time. Cars that aren’t worth selling are generally crushed and sold as scrap, contributing hundreds of thousands of pounds more into the constabulary’s kitties.
If your car has been seized by the police it’s important to act quickly and make sure that you have the essential documents and proofs required to collect it before your vehicle is auctioned or destroyed. You must attend the police station within 7 days of your vehicle being seized and provide the following:
- Proof of your identity
In order to release a vehicle the registered owner or registered keeper must personally attend the compound. Photographic proof of identity MUST be taken with you such as your passport, driver’s license or EU national identity card.
If you do not take the correct form of identification you will not be able to take your vehicle away.
- Your driving license
The registered owner or keeper will have to produce their driving license to the compound staff. Your UK photo card driving license is acceptable but old style paper licenses must be accompanied by your passport or other photo identification.
For drivers whose license has been obtained outside of the UK:
- EU/EEA licenses will be accepted if you also take your passport.
- Non-EU licenses will be accepted if you also produce an International Drivers Permit or an official translation. You’ll also need to show your passport or evidence of your immigration status and the date that you arrived in the UK.
Remember that non-EU licenses are only valid for one year from the date that you first become a permanent resident of the UK.
- Proof that you are insured to drive the vehicle
You will only be allowed to drive your vehicle away from the pound if you can prove that you are fully insured to do so. You’ll need to show the compound staff your certificate of insurance but don’t worry if you don’t have it; a copy that has been faxed or e-mailed to them by your provider should be acceptable.
It’s important that all facts have been declared to your insurance provider, so make sure that you tell them that your vehicle is currently impounded and about any pending convictions you may have. You may need to visit a visit an impounded car insurance website to arrange suitable cover.
- Proof of ownership
The last document that you will need to provide is to prove that you are the owner or registered keeper of the impounded vehicle. The pound staff will be satisfied that you are the owner or keeper if you can bring your vehicle logbook (also known as a V5C). If you have only recently acquired the vehicle and do not have the full V5C document, you can show the “new keeper” supplement (V5C/2) and a bill of sale.
- Payment of compound fees
The final step in releasing a seized vehicle is full settlement of any statutory charges that are outstanding. These can vary but will usually consist of a £150 release fee and a storage fee of £10 per day for motorcycles and £20 per day for cars and vans.
It is important that you ensure these steps are completed within 14 days of the date that your vehicle was seized. If you do not attend the compound before the 14 day period ends then your vehicle will either be sold by the police or destroyed. If you have decided that you do not want to collect the vehicle then you do not need to take any action.