Fact sheet – Clamping and confiscation of motor vehicles

You can talk to a lawyer for free at Tasmania Legal Aid.

To get free legal information call 1300 366 611 or use the Legal Talk chat from the bottom right hand corner of this website. Legal Talk and our phone lines are available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

A lawyer can listen to your story and help identify the next steps you can take.

When can a car be clamped or confiscated?

If you are charged with one of the following offences, Police may clamp or confiscate the offending vehicle:

  • motor vehicle racing without a permit
  • reckless driving
  • operating a vehicle in a way that causes unnecessary speed and acceleration
  • operating a vehicle that causes unnecessary and unreasonable noise
  • operating a vehicle at speed that causes loss of traction
  • operating a vehicle in a manner to evade police
  • using a vehicle to unlawfully enter land or premises
  • driving a motor vehicle in a public area and refusing to leave when directed by police
  • dangerous driving.

What if the car I was driving wasn't mine?

A vehicle can still be clamped or confiscated even if the driver doesn't own the vehicle, such as when you borrow someone else's vehicle. However, if the vehicle isn't yours, the Police must notify the registered owner that the vehicle has been clamped or confiscated, as soon as is reasonably practicable. They must do this in writing.

What else can Police do?

If you have been charged with one of the above traffic offences, Police can:

  • direct you to stop the vehicle and direct you or anyone in possession of the keys to hand them over
  • use whatever force is necessary and reasonable to enter the vehicle
  • provide any direction or action necessary to enable that officer to either clamp or confiscate the vehicle.

Even if the Police don't clamp or confiscate your vehicle on the spot, they may still do so within 90 days of the date of the traffic offence. Police can also direct that you or the owner of the vehicle make it available on a certain day, time and place so that clamping or confiscation can occur.

What happens if my vehicle is confiscated?

Police may arrange for the vehicle to be moved and transported to a holding yard.

At the end of the confiscation period, the vehicle will not be released until the costs of moving, storing and releasing the vehicle are paid. If the costs are not paid, the vehicle will not be released.

If the owner does not collect the vehicle within two months of the end of the confiscation period, Police the power to sell or dispose of the vehicle.

If you are found not guilty of the traffic offences as charged and your vehicle was confiscated, these costs will be covered by the police.

What if my car was confiscated and I wasn't driving?

In situations where a vehicle is not immediately clamped or confiscated, Police may contact the registered owner of the vehicle to find out who was driving at the time.

The owner must tell Police any information they know as to who was driving and where they are now. If they don't know this information, they must take all reasonable steps to find out and tell the Police within 7 days.

If you don't give this information to police, you could be charged with an offence of failing to provide information. If you are convicted, you could receive a large fine or even go to jail.

How long can the Police clamp or confiscate my vehicle?

The period a vehicle can be clamped or confiscated for, will depend on whether this is your first offence or whether you have done it more than once.

  1. First offence

If the driver was charged with using a vehicle to unlawfully enter land or premises or whilst in a vehicle not leaving a public place as directed by Police, the vehicle will be clamped or confiscated for 7 days.

If the driver is charged with evading police then the vehicle can be clamped for a period of 6 months

In relation to any other charges, the vehicle will be clamped or confiscated for a period of 28 days.

  1. Second offence

If a driver has previously committed a traffic offence listed above, the vehicle may be clamped or confiscated for a period of 3 months. If both the previous offences were evading Police in a vehicle, then the vehicle can be clamped or confiscated for up to 12 months.

  1. Third and subsequent offence

If a driver has committed a traffic offence listed above three or more times the vehicle can be clamped or confiscated until all charges have been resolved in Court. Or an officer can make a forfeiture order in respect of the vehicle and the vehicle can be clamped or confiscated until the Court makes a decision regarding the forfeiture order.

The clamping time has expired, how do I have my vehicle's clamp removed?

Once the authorised period of clamping has expired the vehicle clamp may be removed by collecting a key to the clamping device from a Police station during normal business hours. The clamp may then be released and removed from the vehicle and both they key and the clamp must be returned to the Police station within 4 days of collecting the key.

If you fail to return they key, damage the key or attempt to make a copy of the key you could be charged and face significant fines.

Once a clamping order has expired if after 10 days no person seeks to have the vehicle unclamped, Police may unclamp the vehicle and retrieve the clamping device.

What is a forfeiture order?

A forfeiture order is an order made by the Court permanently confiscating property, in this case a motor vehicle.

If the driver has been convicted on 3 or more occasions of any of the above listed traffic offences, a Police officer or prosecutor can apply to the court on the date of conviction or within 14 days of the date of conviction for a forfeiture order.

If a Court makes a forfeiture order the vehicle becomes the property of the Crown (government). This means that the original owner no longer has a claim on the vehicle.

If a vehicle is forfeited to the Crown, they may sell or dispose of it in any way that they consider appropriate.

What if my stuff is in the car?

The registered owner has the right to remove any contents of the vehicle that are not part of the vehicle or attached to the vehicle before it is sold or disposed.

Can I challenge the forfeiture order?

If the offending driver was not the registered owner, the owner can defend the forfeiture order by showing that the offence occurred without his/her knowledge. If this defence is successful, the vehicle will be returned to the registered owner upon payment of any storage or removal costs.

What if I interfere with a clamped or confiscated vehicle

If a vehicle has been clamped or confiscated by Police a person must not:

  • attempt to drive the clamped vehicle
  • interfere with the clamping device
  • paint or mark the clamping device
  • damage the clamping device
  • destroy the clamping device
  • release or attempt to release the clamping device
  • remove a confiscated vehicle from a holding yard
  • take a confiscated vehicle from the person transporting it to a holding yard.

If you interfere with or attempt to remove a vehicle which has been clamped or confiscated, you could be charged.

Last updated: 7-January-2022