The Vehicle Impoundment Program
Police must impound vehicles driven by:
- Prohibited and suspended drivers
- Street racers and stunt drivers
- Excessive speeders
- Certain motorcycle offenders
- Unlicensed and under-licensed drivers
- Many alcohol-affected drivers
The impoundment period depends on the offence and may increase for owners with previous impoundments.
If police impound a vehicle you are driving they will give you a Notice of Impoundment. If it's not your vehicle, police will send the owner a copy, too.
If it's for a non-alcohol related violation, the impoundment will begin immediately and last at least seven days.
RoadSafetyBC will review your driving record and may increase the impoundment period.
- 7-days for a first infraction
- 30-days for a second infraction
- 60-days for three or more driving infractions in the last two years
Driving prohibition—blood alcohol content (BAC) equal to or greater than 0.05
- 3-days for a first infraction (Police may impound the vehicle at their discretion.)
- 7- days for a second infraction (Police may impound the vehicle at their discretion.)
- 30-day impoundment for three or more infractions in the last five years (Police must impound the vehicle.)
Driving prohibition—blood alcohol content (BAC) equal to or greater than 0.08, or for refusal to provide a breath sample
30-day impoundment (mandatory)
Vehicle impoundment costs and getting your vehicle back
A vehicle's owner pays the impoundment costs.
If the vehicle was stolen, police will release it once the owner has filed a stolen vehicle report. The owner must still pay the towing and storage costs.
The owner of a vehicle impounded while operated by another driver can try to recover the costs from the driver in provincial court.
Getting your vehicle released from the impound lot
Impoundment for driving without a licence
If police impounded your vehicle because you drove it unlicensed, it can be released once you have a new driver's licence.
If police impounded your vehicle because someone else was driving it without a licence, it can be released when they have a new driver’s licence.
To get a new licence, go to an ICBC driver licensing office. (This does not apply to drivers who were prohibited from driving.)
For further information, contact ICBC.
Impoundments of 7 days or less
To get a vehicle released, the owner must go to the impoundment lot after the impoundment period ends. The owner must show a valid driver's licence and pay all costs before the vehicle will be released.
Impoundments over 7 days
To get a vehicle released, the driver must:
- Take their valid driver licence and Notice of Impoundment to an ICBC driver licensing office
- Complete a Request for Vehicle Release form at the centre (the centre will fax to the impound lot)
- Go to the impound lot and show their valid driver's licence
- Pay all the towing and storage costs
Note: If your Notice of Impoundment says your impoundment ends on a weekend or holiday, complete the Request for Vehicle Release form on the last business day before the weekend. If the impound lot is open, then you may pick it up on the release date.
Can’t collect your impounded vehicle?
If you’re the vehicle owner but can't collect it from the impound lot, you can name someone else to do it for you.
- Complete an Owner’s Authorization form available from any ICBC driver licensing office
- Have the person you name take the authorization form and the Notice of Impoundment to the impound lot
- The person you name will have to show their valid driver's licence and pay all costs before the lot will release your car
If your vehicle was stolen and impounded
If you're the owner of a vehicle that was stolen and then impounded you can get it released early by filing a police report. You're still responsible for paying the towing and storage costs.
If a vehicle is not reclaimed
If a vehicle is not claimed after the impoundment period has ended the impoundment lot can apply to dispose of it.
If the vehicle's owner owes fees to the impoundment lot operator, they may not get a driver's licence or insurance until their debt has been paid.
An impounded vehicle can be released early for compassionate or economic reasons. For example:
- The driver's spouse needs it for work
- The driver's business partner needs if for business and doing without it would cause hardship
The person applying for the early release of an impounded vehicle must have a valid licence.
A vehicle impounded because the driver was not licensed may be released once the driver is licensed.
There are fees for the early release of an impounded vehicle.
Drivers and owners of impounded vehicles can request reviews of impoundments that are over seven days long.
You can request an impoundment review for these reasons:
Absence of consent
You did not give the driver consent to use the impounded vehicle.
You live with the owner or driver of the impounded vehicle and you need it on compassionate grounds such as economic hardship. You must hold a valid driver's licence and apply within 15 days of the impoundment.
Police believe the impounded vehicle was stolen. The owner of the vehicle will have to pay the towing and storage costs.
An impounded vehicle can be released if its driver has been issued a new driver’s licence. A driver who was prohibited from driving when the vehicle was impounded cannot apply.
Driving prohibition and impoundment
An impounded vehicle may be released if:
- Police prohibited the driver from driving at the time of the impoundment, and
- The driver is applying for a review of the prohibition
Only the driver of the vehicle who received the driving prohibition can apply for the review. If the prohibition review succeeds, towing and impound fees will be refunded.
How to apply
Go to any ICBC driver licensing office for the review form. ICBC will submit your review application to RoadSafetyBC and a review will be scheduled.
A RoadSafetyBC adjudicator will review your application and make a decision. You'll receive the decision by mail.
If the adjudicator lifts your impoundment, RoadSafetyBC will let you know. They'll also fax the impoundment lot and order it to release the vehicle.
The registered owner of the vehicle is responsible for paying the towing and storage fees.
For more information about impoundment reviews, contact RoadSafetyBC's Appeal Registry.
Refuse to issue a driver's licence for impoundment debts
RoadSafetyBC may direct ICBC not to issue a person a driver’s licence until they’ve paid their debt to an impound lot operator for an impounded vehicle.
This encourages owners to settle their vehicle impoundment debts. It also allows lot operators to recover the cost of impounding vehicles for the province.
For more information about driver licensing and impoundment debts, contact RoadSafetyBC.
Impound Lot Operators must use specific documents to:
- Apply to the Vehicle Impoundment Program
- Dispose of vehicles not picked-up at the end of an impoundment
- Ask RoadSafetyBC to direct ICBC to refuse to issue a driver's licence because of debts from a vehicle impoundment
These documents, along with detailed information for Impound Lot Operators and those wishing to join the program, are available on our ILO Information page.