If you're caught driving while disqualified, can a police officer impound your car on the spot? If you're caught driving while disqualified, can a police officer impound your car on the spot?

  • A. Yes

  • B. Only if there is not another eligible driver in the car

  • C. No. They must get an impound order

    The correct answer is A
    A police officer can impound your vehicle on the spot if you are caught driving while disqualified, with a suspended licence, or if you have an expired licence (or no licence) and have been stopped before for that offence and been forbidden to drive. You could face court-imposed penalties and your vehicle could be impounded for 28 days.

Driving while disqualified: penalties and reasons

If you're caught driving while disqualified a police officer can impound your car on the spot.

When you are disqualified from driving it means you are not entitled to hold or obtain a driver's licence. You must surrender it to a court office, the police or NZTA (New Zealand Transport Agency). 

It is possible to be disqualified only in respect of a class of driver licence, e.g. only for heavy vehicles. In this case you would still be able to drive a car.

There are many reasons for disqualification, but two of the most common are exceeding the number of demerit points allowed within a specific time period, and driving with excess breath alcohol.

You may also be disqualified for dangerous driving such as racing on the street, burnouts, drifting, anti-social driving, and failing to stop when requested to do so by police, e.g. if the police have to chase you.

If you are caught driving while disqualified then your vehicle will be impounded. It could also be impounded if

What happens if my vehicle is impounded?

The police will take your keys and will call a tow truck to take your vehicle away to a storage facility. You will be given an impoundment notice.

At the end of the 28 days impoundment you will have to pay towing and storage fees before you can get your vehicle back. At the time of writing the towing fees are between $53.66 and $204.44 plus a $3.06 per kilometre fee if it needs to be towed more than 10km). The storage fees are between $306.66 to $715.55, plus between $12.26 and $28.62 per additional day depending on whether your vehicle is a car or heavy vehicle.

Towing and storage fee payment conditions can be negotiated if you are suffering financial hardship.

If your vehicle is damaged during towing, the tow truck company is responsible. If it's damaged during storage, the storage company is responsible. The onus is on you to prove that damage was caused, therefore it is a good idea to take photographs of the vehicle before it is towed.

If you don't claim the vehicle within 10 days of the impoundment period your vehicle might be sold to defray costs.

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