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.
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. If you don’t know the driver and their driving record, call and check. It takes a minute – and it could save a life.
To check a driver’s licence through the Ministry of Transportation:
- Call 1-900-565-6555 for an automated service. A fee of $2.50 for each licence check will be charged to your phone bill. Please have the driver’s licence number ready.
- Check a driver’s licence online (https://www.dlc.rus.mto.gov.on.ca/dlc/OrderForm.aspx). You will be charged $2.00 for each licence check, payable by Visa, MasterCard or American Express.
- Get a driver’s abstract at a ServiceOntario centre. You will be charged a $12.00 fee for each abstract.
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:
- 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
- You are stopped by police and your licence is suspended immediately for offences 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
- 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.
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.
As the vehicle owner/plate holder, you must pay all towing and storage fees to get your vehicle back at the end of the impoundment period. These costs vary by towing company, but you can expect to pay up to $1,800 for a 45-day impoundment. You can ask the driver to pay these costs. If they don’t agree, you can try to recover these costs from them through the courts.
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 a non-refundable $100 fee to file an appeal. If you win your appeal, you will be refunded any towing and storage costs you have paid.
There is no appeal process for 7-day impoundments.
Visit the Licence Appeal Tribunal website (www.sse.gov.on.ca/lat/english/Pages/default.aspx) for more information on the appeal process.