According to data acquired by Moneybarn via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the DVLA, over 3,500 vehicles were clamped each week on average in 2018. This prompted the government to launch a nationwide campaign targeting drivers with untaxed vehicles, pressuring them to ‘tax it or lose it’.
So what to do if you find your vehicle clamped, or worse, towed away, and how can you to prevent it from happening?
Motorists are obliged to tax their vehicle annually for it to be legally allowed on public roads. Every year, the DVLA sends a reminder letter (V11) to drivers to ensure they tax their vehicle on time.
Motorists can visit the government website at any time to tax their vehicle and check whether it’s up to date. You can even check whether your vehicle is taxed using smart home devices like Amazon Alexa or Google Home.
If you’re taking your vehicle off the road (SORN), you’ll need to inform the DVLA as you could still be liable. Some vehicles are ‘exempt’ from paying vehicle tax, meaning it’s free to tax them. However, you must still tax your vehicle even if you don’t have to pay a charge.
If your vehicle is caught without tax, you may be issued a fine from the DVLA of around £80. However, it could result in a fine of up to £1000 or five times the annual road tax fee if the case goes to court.
If you’re caught using or keeping an untaxed vehicle on a public road, with a SORN in force, an Out of Court Settlement (OCS) letter is issued. However, if the settlement isn’t paid, the penalty could be either £2,500 or five times the amount of tax chargeable, whichever is greater.
In both instances, your vehicle may be clamped, which can also be costly and time-consuming.
If you find yourself with a clamped vehicle, under no circumstance should you attempt to remove the clamp yourself. This can amount to criminal damage, for which you could be prosecuted.
Instead, follow the instructions on the leaflet placed on your vehicle to start the process of removing the clamp.
If your vehicle has been clamped or removed (impounded) you must pay a surety fee (deposit) if it’s not taxed before it’s released. The surety fee will also need to be paid if you intend to keep the vehicle on SORN or make a SORN.
Surety fees can reach up to £700 depending on the type of vehicle that’s been clamped or removed.
If you pay a surety fee as part of your release payment from a clamp or vehicle pound, you may be able to claim a refund. To claim the money back, you must purchase new vehicle tax and confirm this within 15 days of the vehicle’s release (including the day of release).
Wheel clamping and towing on private land is banned in England, Scotland and Wales.
Privately owned land can include but is not limited to, retail parks, hospitals and supermarkets. If you’re clamped on private land by someone claiming to be from a private company, this is against the law.
Instead, the car park operator is entitled to give you a Parking Charge Notice for breaching any rules it has displayed on its land. That said, it should be proportionate to the normal advertised costs of parking.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. The local authority, DVLA and the DVSA can still clamp or tow vehicles parked on private land within good reason.
10th November 2019