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Can police seizure be challenged?

Information about how to challenge a police decision to seize a motor vehicle.

Police must have reasonable grounds to impound or immobilise a motor vehicle. The officer must reasonably believe that the motor vehicle was used to commit a relevant offence. The police officer must notify a senior officer within 48 hours of seizure or immobilisation, stating the grounds that they relied on for taking this action.

If the senior police officer is not satisfied that there were reasonable grounds to impound the vehicle then the vehicle must be returned to the vehicle's registered operator.

See ss. 84F, 84M, 84N—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Driver may seek administrative review

If the review by a senior officer is not properly exercised, the person could seek a review of this decision under the Administrative Law Act 1978 (Vic). Applications are made to the Supreme Court and must be made within 30 days of being notified of the decision or when they are given reasons for that decision. This procedure will be expensive.

See 'Judicial review 101' in Practice resources—Judicial review resources(opens in a new window).

Lodge a complaint about police

The driver may also lodge a complaint about police with the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC).

See Police powers—How to make a complaint.

If driver can show exceptional hardship

A driver (or anyone whose interests are substantially affected by the impoundment or immobilisation) may challenge this decision by applying to the Magistrates' Court on the ground that it will cause exceptional hardship.

See s. 84O—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and Release of vehicle in exceptional circumstances.

More information

Legislation

Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)

  • s. 84C—defines 'appeal period' and tier one and tier 2 relevant offences
  • s. 84F—powers of Victoria Police
  • s. 84M—review by a senior police officer
  • s. 84N—circumstances where a motor vehicle held y Victoria police may be released
  • s. 84O—Appeal rights

See Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Administrative Law Act 1978 (Vic)

  • s. 2—defines 'tribunal' and 'decision'
  • s. 3—any person affected by a decision of a tribunal may apply to the Supreme Court calling for an order that the decision makers review their decision
  • s. 4—the person has 30 days to apply for review after they are notified of the decision or are given reasons for the decision (whichever is the later)

See Administrative Law Act 1978 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Reference

PLE resources

Barrister Kyle McDonald presented a paper about impoundment and forfeiture in April 2012. This discusses the July 2012 change to the hoon driving law and gives a succinct summary of the evolution of the hoon driving laws in Victoria up until that point.

See PLE resources—Vehicle impoundment and forfeiture(opens in a new window).

Practice resources—Judicial review resources

For general information about the review process for challenging a decision of the senior police office, see the Professional Support Lawyers content on the intranet.

See 'Judicial review 101' in Practice resources—Judicial review resources(opens in a new window).

Updated