Police Powers To Seize Vehicles

There are two main powers that the police use to seize vehicles. This is a rough guide.

S.59 PRA 2002 is the power to seize a vehicle being used in a manner causing alarm, distress or annoyance.

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A constable has to be in uniform and has to have reasonable ground for believing that a vehicle has been used in a manner which amounts to driving without due care and attention or inconsiderate driving. (s.3 RTA 1988).

Seizing Vehicles

The officers powers allow him/her to ;

a. order the driver to stop.

b. seize and remove vehicle.

c. enter premises to get the vehicle.

d. use reasonable force if necessary.

He cannot seize unless he has warned the person concerned first and the person has then continued to ignore that warning and do the same again. The need for a warning can be dispensed with the officer can show that he has warned before/it wasn’t practical to warn/he believes a warning has been given by another constable/he believes a warning has been given in the last twelve months – maybe in relation to a different car.

S.165A RTA 1988

This is the power to seize for suspected driving without a licence/insurance.

The PC has to have required production of the licence/insurance on the spot. The driver has to fail to produce on the spot. The constable then has to form the reasonable suspicion that the vehicle is not insured or the driver doesn’t have a licence (or both). The PC can also make this demand and form the reasonable suspicion if a driver fails to stop.

The PC then must warn the driver of his suspicion and his intention to seize (unless it is impracticable for him to do so). He can then seize the vehicle straight away if they don’t produce. He can enter premises (other than a dwelling) to do so and if necessary can use reasonable force.

There is is no legal requirement to carry the documents with you, but watch out if something has gone wrong with police national computer or the insurance database and you get stopped without them.

Most reasonable officers will give someone the chance to produce, or phone their insurers at the roadside or follow them home to see the certificate. But I have had plenty of decent law abiding clients (both male a female, young and old) left stranded at the roadside as a result of s.165A.

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