Vehicle Impoundment

Vehicle Impoundment
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Find out what you need to know to keep your car on the road.

Vehicle Impoundment Program in Ontario

Ontario’s Vehicle Impoundment Programs are aimed at making our roads safer. Keeping suspended drivers off Ontario roads saves lives.

This applies to all types of motor vehicles including:

  • passenger vehicles
  • trucks
  • buses
  • motorcycles
  • vehicles that have been rented, leased or provided to you for work

Under Ontario law, you are responsible for making sure that every person who drives your vehicle has a valid driver’s licence. Your vehicle will be impounded even in cases where:

  • you lent it to a friend or family member
  • you use it for business or work purposes
  • it is rented or leased
  • you hold a licence from another province, state or country

These rules apply to all motor vehicle types, including passenger vehicles, motorcycles, trucks and buses.

Check a driver’s licence

If you are going to lend your vehicle to anyone, make sure they have a valid licence.  It takes a minute – and it could save a life.

There are ways to check a driver’s licence through the Ministry of Transportation:

Suspended driver’s licences

If you or anyone drives your vehicle with a suspended licence your vehicle will be impounded. This also applies if the driver has a licence from another province, state or country but is currently suspended in Ontario.

The length of impoundment depends on why the driver’s licence is suspended.

Criminal Code convictions

If you are caught driving when your licence is suspended for a Criminal Code conviction, your vehicle will be impounded for at least 45 days.

Examples of Criminal Code convictions include:

  • drinking and driving
  • driving while disqualified
  • failing to remain at the scene of a collision

Highway Traffic Act offences

Your vehicle will be impounded for 7 days for the following reasons:

  1. You are caught driving when your licence is already suspended under certain Highway Traffic Act offences. Examples of these offences include:
    • a prior “warn range” conviction for BAC between 0.05 and 0.08
    • too many demerit points
    • careless driving
    • default of family support
    • race, stunt or contest driving
    • failure to complete remedial measures to reinstate a suspended licence
    • a conviction for a Novice Violation
  2. You are stopped by police and your licence is suspended immediately for offenses including:
    • Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) over 0.08
    • failure to comply when a police officer demands a breath sample under the Criminal Code of Canada
  3. You are caught driving in violation of a condition on your driver’s licence, such as driving without a required approved ignition interlock device.

If your vehicle is impounded

The police officer who stops you or the person driving your vehicle will give you an impoundment notice. Your vehicle will then be immediately towed to an impound yard. After the impoundment period ends, you must pay the towing and storage costs before your vehicle can be released.

All impoundments are handled by police.

Impoundment periods

The reason the driver’s licence is suspended will determine how long your vehicle will be impounded for:

  • Criminal Code convictions such as impaired driving or failing to remain at the scene of a collision: minimum 45 days
  • stunt driving or street racing: 14 days
  • other Highway Traffic Act offenses such as having a blood alcohol concentration at 0.08 or more, or refusing a police officer’s demand for drug or alcohol testing: 7 days

Getting an impounded vehicle back

The steps to get an impounded vehicle back may vary from one police district to another. You or the driver must get instructions from the police officer or police service that impounded the vehicle.

  • For a 7-day impoundment, if you are the vehicle owner/plate holder but were not the driver, the police will notify you directly.
  • For a minimum 45-day impoundment, if you are the vehicle owner/plate holder but were not the driver, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles will notify you directly.


You must pay all towing and storage fees to get your vehicle back at the end of the impoundment period. Contact the towing company about costs.

Appealing an impoundment

You can only appeal vehicle impoundments that were as a result of a Criminal Code suspension (45-day impoundments). As the vehicle owner/plate holder, you can appeal an impoundment if:

  • the vehicle was stolen at the time of the impoundment
  • the driver was not under a Criminal Code suspension
  • the vehicle owner/plate holder exercised all reasonable efforts to make sure the driver had a valid driver’s licence (e.g. checking the driver’s record with the Ministry of Transportation)
  • the loss of the vehicle would result in exceptional hardship

There is no appeal process for 7-day impoundments.


Last updated: November 01, 2023

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