Vehicle Impoundment in Australia: What to Do & Where to Go


Apr 20th, 2022

Vehicle Impoundment in Australia: What to Do & Where to Go

Got your car impounded by the police? That can be pretty frustrating. More so if you’re not the one driving when it happened. Thankfully, dealing with an impounded car and getting it back isn’t as big a headache as it might seem at first.

If your car was impounded, it means that the police will temporarily take away your car and keep it at an impound lot for a month or so. You can apply for its release and pay the fines and other fees corresponding to the traffic offence/s committed that led to getting the vehicle impounded by police authorities.

Keep reading as this guide will show you the impounding process, the reasons for impounding a vehicle, and what you can do to get your car back as soon as possible.

Let’s get started.

What Is Impounding?

Let’s start this guide by understanding what it means to get your car impounded. 

Getting your vehicle impounded by police authorities means that they have taken it away from where you left it and kept it in an impounding facility. The police will continue to do so for some time, depending on your situation.

A typical impound period will last about a month. But, again, not everyone's situation is the same, considering that you can get your car impounded for traffic offences or crimes involving the vehicle.

More importantly, the police can impound your vehicle even if you’re not the one behind the wheel. So, whether someone borrowed your car or stole it, it’ll still end up in an impound lot, and you’ll still go through filing an application for release of impounded vehicle. 

Here, you must understand that impounding is not the same as confiscation. When your car gets impounded, the police will have it towed away to the closest impound lot. 

The good thing is that the entire situation is temporary. The car still belongs to you, but the authorities are keeping it for the time being.

That’s vastly different from confiscation, where the police will permanently take the vehicle from you. Of course, it can only happen if you’re convicted of certain serious offences and there’s a court order for the confiscation.

Why Would the Police Impound My Car?

Getting your car impounded by police in Victoria or any other Aussie state or territory can happen for many reasons.

Your car will be impounded if you’re reported, arrested, or charged for any of the following:

  1. Driving dangerously
  2. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  3. Driving without a license or auto insurance
  4. Leading police on a car chase or not following police instructions
  5. Speeding
  6. Parking your car illegally and in a way that obstructs traffic
  7. Hooning
  8. And more

What Is Hooning?

Hooning is also a serious traffic offence that can get your car impounded immediately. Hooning refers to dangerous and anti-social driving behaviours like doing burnouts with their vehicle and organising, spectating, or otherwise participating in illegal street races.

Other hooning offences include speeding over 45 km/h beyond the limit, reckless driving, menacing driving, careless driving, and dangerous driving.

All states and territories in Australia have amended laws and regulations targeting hooning offences. Those laws deter hooning behaviour with impounding, confiscation, fines, and more.

However, it’s important to remember that penalties and methods of impounding cars differ between states. In other words, the answer to “how to release an impounded vehicle Victoria” under these offences will likely differ in Tasmania or anywhere else.

How Do I Get My Car Out of Impound?

Generally, you’ll have to make an appointment to get your car out of an impound lot. You can do so with the local police holding your vehicle or directly with the impound lot (if you know which one has your car).

Assuming the car is your own, you’ll have to bring documents like your identification, proof of ownership over the vehicle, and a release form. That form is usually available online from the local police service’s website.

If you’re collecting an impounded car on someone else’s behalf, you’ll need (besides the usual requirements) a signed letter of authority from the car owner, so the police will know that you have permission to do so.

Lastly, you must pay the fees before the impound lot releases the vehicle to you.

What Fees Do I Need to Pay to Get My Car Out of Impound?

The exact fees for recovering an impounded car will differ between cities, states, or territories. 

While each place will assess different amounts, the types of fees you’re required to pay are essentially the same, such as:

  • Administrative fee
  • Storage fees (if you didn’t collect the car from the lot on time)
  • Clamping fees (one to attach the clamp and another to remove it)
  • Towing fees (i.e., the fee for towing your car from wherever it was and bringing it to the impound lot)
  • Fines or penalties for traffic offences you might have committed
  • Other miscellaneous fees

Can I Get My Car Out from the Impound Early?

When the police impound your car, they typically do so for a set time. That period usually lasts about a month, but you can file an application for release of impounded vehicle much earlier than that. 

The exact procedures, forms, and costs might be different, but most places will allow an early release on the following grounds:

  • Your car was stolen at the time of the offence that got it impounded
  • Someone else was using your vehicle to commit the offence that got it impounded
  • Financial or physical hardship (e.g., without the car, you can’t get to work to make a living)
  • And other reasons allowed by the state’s police

What Happens If You Don't Collect Your Car from the Impound?

As you've seen above, the police will impound your vehicle for about a month. If you fail to collect your car during that period, they’ll charge you further storage fees for every day that it’s left with them.

However, after a specific number of days (e.g., 7-21 days depending on local regulations), they’ll dispose of your uncollected car.

The term ‘dispose of’ can mean two things:

  1. The police will sell or auction off your vehicle
  2. The police will have your car crushed

Regardless of how they decide to dispose of the vehicle, the car’s owner is liable for all costs associated with the process.

So, abandoning your car in an impound lot is not an option, as you’re still responsible for the vehicle one way or another.

Where Do I Go for More Information?

Remember: the specific processes, forms, fines, and penalties for car impounding differs depending on which state or territory you’re from.

So, here’s where you can get more information about car impounding in your location:

Check out the blog at CarpartAU for more helpful information. Whether you’re worried about a vehicle impounded by police or any other issue affecting Aussie car owners, you’ll find what you need right in our blog!

By Ray Hasbollah