Has Your Vehicle Been Impounded in Australia? Find Out What to Do

It is never a good feeling when the police impound your vehicle in Australia. It is even worse if someone else was driving your vehicle beforehand.

The good news is that you won’t need to stress out too much to recover your impounded car from the police. But first, you need to understand some basic information about vehicle impounds.

An Overview of Police Impounds 

Impounding is when police officials order your vehicle to be towed away to an impounding facility due to some violation of the law. Some of the most common reasons why the police would impound your vehicle include the following:

  • You were speeding on the road
  • You were driving without a valid driver’s licence
  • You were driving without a valid auto insurance policy
  • You illegally parked in a parking lot or road
  • Your vehicle has stopped or broken down in a spot that obstructs traffic
  • You were found to be legally intoxicated with drugs or alcohol.
  • You were driving too aggressively or dangerously
  • You failed to follow police instructions
  • Anytime you break the law with your vehicle

When the police impound your car away to the impounding facility, it could be there for up to a month. That means you have up to a month to recover your vehicle from the impounding facility by paying the necessary fees and fulfilling the necessary legal requirements.


Don’t confuse vehicle impounds with vehicle confiscation because they are two different things. When the police confiscate your vehicle, they are holding it for an indefinite time because of an investigation or serious offense you may have committed. But with an impound, the police merely transport your vehicle to the nearest impound facility to get it off the road or someone’s private property.

Please note that the police can still impound a car even if it doesn’t belong to you. For example, let’s say you borrow a friend’s car and commit a severe traffic violation. The police can still impound the vehicle even though it doesn’t technically belong to you.

How to Recover Your Impounded Vehicle

In most cases, you can visit the impound facility anytime to recover your vehicle. So you don’t need to make an appointment.

If you are the vehicle owner, you’ll need to bring a series of documents to prove your identity and ownership of the vehicle. These documents include the car title, personal photo identification, and the Application for Release of Impounded Vehicle form.

Ensure the release form is completely filled out with all the required information. You can probably find a copy of the form on the website of the local police agency. Fill it out at home before arriving at the impound lot to save time.

However, if attempting to recover someone else’s impounded vehicle, you need to have the vehicle owner sign a letter of authority permitting you to recover the car on their behalf.

And, of course, don’t forget about the required fees you’ll need to pay.

How Much Are the Fees?

The impound facility won’t release your vehicle until you pay all the required fees. The fee amounts differ between various territories, states, and cities in Australia. But here is a basic overview of the fees you can expect to have to pay:

  • Clamping Fees
  • Storage Fees
  • Administrative Fees
  • Traffic Fines or Penalties
  • Towing Fees

There could be additional fees besides these as well. Try to pay the fees as early as possible to avoid additional penalty charges or fees. It would be a shame if you lost your vehicle because you couldn’t pay the hundreds of dollars in fees. The total fee amounts don’t usually exceed one-thousand dollars.

Vehicle Impound

The Consequences of Not Recovering Your Vehicle or Paying the Fees

Each local police authority has specific rules regarding how long you have to recover your vehicle. Most police authorities will give you about a month to recover your vehicle after it gets impounded. But if you don’t recover your vehicle or pay the required fees to get it back, the police will have the legal right to dispose of it.

Most police agencies will list an impounded vehicle for sale at auction after about 7 to 21 days. But if the impounded vehicle has little to no value or doesn’t get sold at the auction, the police may destroy your vehicle by having it crushed at a junkyard.

The worst part is that the police will send you a bill for the costs of crushing the vehicle. In addition, you’ll still be responsible for paying the storage fees from when your vehicle was stored at the impound facility.

Act Fast

Please make every effort possible to recover the impounded vehicle before losing it forever. The police will show you no mercy in this situation. So if you’re on a tight budget and don’t have the money to pay the fees, borrow the money from someone or take out a personal loan to pay the fees. It’ll be better than losing your investment forever.