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Criminal & traffic law

Losing your vehicle: Impounding and confiscation

Impounding of vehicles in emergencies and
serious accidents

Land Transport Act 1998, ss 122, 123

The police can seize and impound a vehicle for up to 12 hours in an emergency involving public safety. They can extend this if necessary, up to another 12 hours.

The police can also seize and impound a vehicle for up to seven days if it’s been involved in a serious accident or a hit-and-run offence, or if the driver failed to stop for the police. Impounding the vehicle must be necessary to preserve evidence or to allow the evidence to be examined or to establish the cause of a serious accident. The police can apply to the District Court for an order extending the impounding period for another seven days.

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Driving and traffic law

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New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA)


Phone: 0800 699 000
Email: info@nzta.govt.nz

The NZTA site provides a wide range of driving and road safety information, including on topics covered in this chapter.

You can read and download fact sheets and other publications from their site, or you can order hard copies by contacting them, including their fact-sheet on Legal mobile phone use while driving.


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Frequently Asked Questions


The “Driving/road safety” and “Tickets/infringements” section of this webpage have Frequently Asked Questions about traffic fines, speeding, demerit points and where you can pay your fines.

Consumer protection

“Parking, towing and clamping”


This Consumer Protection webpage has information about the law covering tow trucks and wheel-clamping on public and private property, and about unreasonable fees in private car parks.

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