I was driving and the police stopped me and conducted a seizure of the car. However, it is not mine. Is that legal in Queensland?
Possibly yes. In Queensland police can impound vehicles for certain offences. In some cases the vehicle may even be forfeited to Queensland.
There are 2 types of relevant traffic offences which may involve impoundment Type 1 offences include evading police , dangerous operation of a vehicle, careless driving, high speed offences, any involvement in speed trials, burn outs or driving or starting a vehicle so as to cause unnecessary noise or smoke.
For those types of offences the police can seize your vehicle without waiting for your offence to go before a court. If you are found guilty of some repeat offences then your vehicle may be forfeited to Queensland.
For those type 1 offences the penalties available are 90 day impoundment for a first offence in 5 years or if you commit further offences within that 5 year period, the vehicle will be forfeited to Queensland.
Type 2 offences include driving an unregistered (and that by necessity includes uninsured) vehicle, unlicensed driving, high range drink driving, failing to provide a specimen of breath and driving while under 24 hour suspension as well as other things.
For those type 2 offences the penalties available are no impoundment (for the first offence in a 5 year period), 7 day impoundment (for the second offence in a 5 year period), increasing by the number of offences until the vehicle is forfeited to Queensland if you are guilty of a fourth offence in 5 years.
The other types of offences which may involve impoundment are criminal organization offences, that is offences committed by someone who is a participant in a criminal organization. Those offences include failing to stop a vehicle when directed to do so by police, being in a public place with 2 or more people who are part of a criminal organization, fighting in a public place or entering or attempting to enter a prescribed place or event.
If a motor vehicle was involved in the offence then police can seize the vehicle until the end of court proceedings relating to the offence. If you are found guilty then the vehicle will be forfeited to Queensland.
Police can seize your vehicle by, amongst other things, towing and storing the vehicle at a holding yard, removing and confiscating the number plates and attaching a confiscation notice, attaching or arranging for an immobilizing device to be installed to the vehicle, serving notice on you to produce the car for impoundment.
If the vehicle is stolen or a rental vehicle it is to be returned to the owner as soon as reasonably practical.
Otherwise if you are the owner or usual driver of the vehicle you can apply to the Commissioner of Police for the impounded vehicle to be released if it will cause severe financial hardship by depriving you of the means to financially support yourself or your family, it will cause severe physical hardship to you or your family, it was impounded because the driver was unlicensed or the vehicle unregistered and this has since been rectified, the impoundment was due to a criminal organization offence and you are not a member of a criminal organization or there were no grounds to impound the vehicle. The Commission of police has 5 days to decide whether to release the vehicle. If the Commissioner refuses the request then you can apply to the Magistrates Court for the release of the vehicle within 28 days of receipt of the Commissioner’s decision not to release the vehicle.
This is a general overview only. For more detailed information please contact our office.