Rules on car clamping and who is allowed to immobilise your car


One of the most concerning incidents that can affect a motorist is if they return to their vehicle and find it has been clamped. But what are your rights as a driver in the UK and what can you do if this happens to you? The experts at LeaseElectricCar.co.uk have looked at what people in this situation can do.

A spokesperson for LeaseElectricCar.co.uk said: “It can be an absolute nightmare if you find your vehicle has been clamped. Your wheel will be immobilised and you will be unable to drive it away. The most important thing to do is to remain calm and gather your thoughts before deciding on the best course of action.

“The major thing to consider is to determine whether your car has been clamped on public or private land – this will go some way to helping you decide what to do next to remedy the situation.”

Here are the key things to remember as outlined by LeaseElectricCar.co.uk :

Private property: Laws passed around a decade ago mean that it is a criminal offence to block-in, clamp, immobilse or tow a vehicle without lawful authority on privately owned land. This can include privately owned car parks and car parks on retail parks that are not run by the local authority, for example.

The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (PFA 2012), was brought in to discourage firms preying on drivers by charging excessive release fees. No offence is committed if you are prevented from leaving a car park by a fixed barrier blocking your vehicle’s exit.

Specific organisations can immobilise or move a vehicle lawfully, including the police, DVLA and local authorities. Section 55 of PFA 2012 extended the powers to the police to remove vehicles from all areas of private land which are dangerously parked, or are illegally or obstructively parked or broken down. Unroadworthy or untaxed vehicles can be removed by Government agencies such as DVLA or VOSA.

Lawful authority can also be gained by other organisations and public bodies through Acts of Parliament and local byelaws, including airports, harbours, railway stations and strategic river crossings. Illegal clampers can be liable to a fine of up to £5,000 in a magistrate’s court or an unlimited fine in Crown Court.

According to the DVLA, vehicles do not need to be parked on the public road to attract enforcement action. Authorised persons have the power to carry out enforcement action, including the wheelclamping and removal of untaxed vehicles, in off-road areas such as public house car parks, private and municipal car parks, retail car parks and more, if they have reason to believe an offence has been committed.

Should a motor trader wish to store vehicles held in stock at their business premises, the area must be on enclosed, private land to be used exclusively by the trader for their business activities. We advise the use of signage by motor traders to show that the land in question is part of their business premises, as it provides clarity for customers, traders, and enforcement officers. It also ensures that vehicles held in stock which meet the relevant exemption criteria are not subject to enforcement action.

As an exception, vehicles parked on private land must have a valid Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN) in force or enforcement action will be taken. Vehicles parked on land directly associated with a dwelling cannot be clamped or impounded. This applies for example, to private driveways, garages and allocated parking bays.

Public property: Only authorised bodies such as the local authority, the DVLA or the police can legally clamp a vehicle on the public highway, and it can be done under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. Reasons that the vehicle can be clamped include if it is parked in a ‘no waiting area’, another type of restricted area or has no excise licence.

Motorists penalised will likely find a notice attached to their car with details on what has happened and how it can be released once a fine has been paid. Anyone who tries to remove the clamp or damage or interfere with it is breaking the law if it has been put there by an authorised person or organisation.





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