Newfoundland and Labrador’s Vehicle Seizure and Impoundment Program is aimed at making our roads safer. On September 21, 2017 new amendments to the Highway Traffic Act expanded the vehicle impoundment program making it mandatory for a police officer to impound the vehicle of an impaired driver. Further amendments which became effective June 8, 2018, allow for a peace officer to impound a vehicle when they have reasonable grounds to believe a driver has been engaging in excessive speeding (51 km/hr or more over the speed limit), stunting, or racing on a highway. Drivers who are impaired, driving while disqualified or operating a vehicle without insurance or that is unroadworthy will have the vehicle impounded Drivers who are charged with excessive speeding, racing, or performing stunts may also have their vehicle impounded.
How the Vehicle Impoundment Program Works
- Who it Affects
- Early Release Application Process
- Cost to get a Vehicle Returned
- Registered Vehicle Owner Responsibilities
- Transfer of Vehicle Ownership while the Vehicle is Impounded
- Vehicles Not Claimed After the Impoundment Period Expires
How the Vehicle Impoundment Program Works
A driver caught driving a vehicle while their licence is suspended or disqualified will have the vehicle impounded for 30 days.
A driver caught driving a vehicle with no insurance or that is deemed unroadworthy will have the vehicle impounded for a minimum of 24 hours.
A driver caught driving a vehicle with excessive speed (51 km/h or more over the speed limit) may have their vehicle impounded for a period of 3 days.
A driver caught driving a vehicle while performing stunts may have their vehicle impounded for a period of 3 days.
A driver caught driving a vehicle in a race with another vehicle or bicycle may have their vehicle impounded for a period of 3 days.
A driver under 22 years of age or a novice driver with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of greater than 0.00 but less than 0.08 will have the vehicle impounded for 7 days.
A person acting as an accompanying driver with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of greater than 0.00 but less than 0.08 will have the vehicle impounded for 7 days.
A driver 22 and over (but not a novice or accompanying driver) with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.05 but less than 0.08 will have the vehicle impounded for 7 days.
A driver 22 and over (but not a novice or accompanying driver) who an officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a driver is impaired will have the vehicle impounded for 7 days.
All drivers or accompanying drivers with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or greater will have the vehicle impounded for 30 days.
All drivers or accompanying drivers who fails/refuses to comply with a demand made under Section 254 of the Criminal Code of Canada will have the vehicle impounded for 30 days.
All drivers will be given an impoundment notice by the police officer. The vehicle will be immediately towed to an impoundment yard. The vehicle owner must pay the towing and storage costs before the vehicle can be released.
Who it Affects
Regardless of whether the vehicle is borrowed from a friend or family member, used for business or employment purposes, rented or leased, any person caught driving a vehicle in Newfoundland and Labrador in any of the above noted circumstances will have the vehicle they are driving impounded for the appropriate length time.
This program applies to all motor vehicle types including recreational vehicles, passenger vehicles, motorcycles, trucks and buses.
Early Release Application Process
An application for early release can be completed by the registered owner of the vehicle and must be submitted to the Registrar for review. A non- refundable fee must be paid to the Motor Registration Division when the application is submitted. This review may take 7 business days and the registered owner will be advised of the results of the review. Full details about this process are outlined on the application form.
Cost to get a Vehicle Released
Registered vehicle owners are liable for all towing and storage costs for the impoundment period. In addition, drivers may face additional fines and fees.
Registered Vehicle Owner Responsiblities
Registered vehicle owners are responsible for taking all reasonable steps to ensure every person who drives their vehicle has a valid driver’s licence, is not impaired, and is medically eligible to drive. Owners are also responsible to ensure their vehicle is roadworthy and has valid insurance.
Transfer of Vehicle Ownership while the Vehicle is Impounded
Appropriate paperwork has to be reviewed and processed at a Motor Registration office before the ownership of an impounded vehicle can be transferred.
Vehicles Not Claimed After the Impoundment Period Expires
The impoundment fees constitute a lien on the vehicle. If the vehicle is not claimed within 30 days after the impoundment expiry, the garage operator has the right to sell the vehicle to recoup seizure and impoundment and administrative expenses. Any surplus from the sale will be remitted to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles. Monies owed to the government for outstanding fines, etc., will be deducted and the remainder will be returned to the registered owner.