Vehicle sanctions and penalties
Vehicle sanctions aim to improve road safety by removing high-risk drivers from roads immediately. This prevents drivers from reoffending.
What are vehicle sanctions?
There are 2 types of vehicle sanctions:
- number plate confiscation
- vehicle impounding (confiscating your vehicle).
Vehicle sanctions usually last for 3 months. However, your car may be sanctioned for up to 6 months if you were disqualified from driving at the time.
Police can impound a vehicle even if someone other than the registered owner was driving. This includes company-registered vehicles.
Police may apply a vehicle sanction immediately at the roadside for serious driving offences, such as:
- street racing
- aggravated burnout
- engaging in a police pursuit
- speeding by more than 45km/h
- repeat unauthorised driving
- repeat high-risk drink driving
- combined drink and drug driving – if high range or repeat offences.
For a combined drink and drug driving offence, vehicle sanctions may be applied up to 60 days after the offence. This allows time for the roadside drug test results to be confirmed by a laboratory.
Vehicle sanction penalties
If you commit a serious driving offence in a vehicle registered in your name, NSW police can impound your vehicle, or give you a notice to impound your vehicle within 10 days. The notice will specify the location where the vehicle needs to be handed over. If the vehicle is not handed over, further penalties may apply.
Police may also confiscate a vehicle's number plates.
If the offending driver is not the registered operator, Transport for NSW may issue a suspension warning notice to the registered operator of the vehicle. This notice warns that if the same vehicle is used in a second offence, the registration of the vehicle may be suspended for 3 months.
It is not the intention that vehicle owners be penalised for a driving offence committed in their vehicle. For the first offence, the notice is only a warning.
A second or subsequent offence may result in a penalty. This is because the vehicle owner has failed to appropriately supervise the use of their vehicle.
If you commit a serious driving offence in a vehicle registered to a company, NSW police can confiscate the vehicle. Police may also confiscate the vehicle's number plates.
If you commit a hoon offence while driving a vehicle registered to you or registered to a company, police may confiscate your number plates. Your number plates can be confiscated when you are stopped by police on the roadside. If you drive the vehicle without number plates, you can face tough penalties.
These offences include:
- driving a vehicle with no plates or false plates
- altering, tampering with or replicating a production notice sticker. These stickers are attached to a vehicle by police when number plates are removed.
You may apply to the local court for early release of confiscated plates.
In NSW, if you repeatedly commit serious driving offences, you may forfeit ownership of your vehicle. This means that the vehicle will no longer be your property and you will have to hand it over to the police or to the court.
In some cases, your vehicle may be sold to recover its storage and collection costs. In other cases, it may be given to Transport for NSW to be used in crash testing.
Appealing a vehicle sanction
If you have received a vehicle sanction, you can apply to the court to get your vehicle or number plates back before the end of the confiscation period.
You must show the court that you need to use the vehicle for a legitimate reason. The court will consider whether it is reasonably likely that either:
- the vehicle will be used to commit a serious driving offence again, or
- the confiscation will cause extreme hardship for someone (other than the registered owner).
The court cannot release a vehicle or number plates earlier than 5 working days after sanction.