What happens if I get clamped, how do I get it removed?
That sinking feeling when you approach your car and see that the front wheel has been clamped. Not fun. You’ll notice a note on your windscreen which explains why the car has been clamped. There are a number of reasons your car may get clamped:
- Improperly parking in a public parking land
- Vehicle is untaxed and on a public road
In this article, we’ll take you through the why’s and the how’s of getting the clamp removed.
What is a car clamp?
A car wheel clamp is a device which prevents the vehicle from being moved. It’s most commonly a clamp which goes around the wheel. This immobilises the car and prevents it and the tyre from being removed altogether too.
Who has clamped the vehicle?
This is very important. Some private parking venues operate military grade clamping procedures that are, by all accounts, extremely over zealous. These clamping practices are illegal in England and Wales.
Clamped in a private parking area
If you have been clamped in a privately owned car park then you have been illegally targeted. Even if you had made an error when parking your vehicle. Clamping on private land was outlawed in 2012. So know your rights and demand that the clamp is removed. You will still receive a penalty to pay and you have a legal obligation to make this payment. But the car cannot be clamped by these individuals.
Clamped in a public parking area
If you are parked in an area governed by the local authority, then yes, they are legally allowed to clamp a vehicle which is improperly parked on public land. Especially if it’s location poses a risk to other road users.
Similarly, your vehicle can be clamped or removed and impounded if it is untaxed and on a public road. Even if you have obtained the relevant SORN notification the vehicle should not be on the road.
Debt collection agencies also operate clamping and are legally allowed to do so in order to obtain due funds. If your car is clamped by a bailiff they must leave a notice on your car warning you that the vehicle had been immobilised. Other information included is the date and time the car was clamped. It should also contain a reason why your car has been clamped. There will also be a 24-hour telephone number you can call if you have any queries and the bailiff’s reference number for this action.
What if I’ve been clamped illegally?
Firstly, call to contest the clamping and inform the perpetrators that you know your rights.Tell them that they have unlawfully clamped your vehicle. Agree to pay a parking fine if you have made a mistake, but refuse to pay for having the clamp removed. If the clamping company are playing hardball then you can contact the local police on 101. If you were parked against the regulations of the private land then you are legally obliged to pay the fine as a consequence of this. However, we recommend contesting the additional fee of clamping. See this article from the BBC for more information.
If your vehicle has been impounded for unpaid tax
Follow the instructions left on the notice attached to your car. In some cases, the car may have been removed. If your vehicle has been removed you must first find out where your vehicle is. You can do this by either contacting your local police station. Dial 101 and ask for your local police branch. Or call NSL to obtain the information about the whereabouts of your car. NSL can be contacted by phone on 0843 224 1999. When you arrive at the impound location you will be required to pay a release fee and show proof that the vehicle has now been taxed before you can drive away.
Should I attempt to remove the clamp myself?
There are many conflicting stories about people forcibly removing wheel clamps if they have been administered on private property. Ultimately it is considered to be criminal damage and if you are caught you could face prosecution. Some forums have suggested that as long as nobody sees you and there is no evidence then the clamping company are unable to prove who had removed the clamp.
We would suggest airing on the side of caution. Going through the proper channels in order to get the clamp removed is best practice. This is the section of the Criminal Damage act which would prohibit this activity.
Section 4 Criminal Damage Act 1991:
A person (in this section referred to as the possessor) who has anything in his custody or under his control intending without lawful excuse to use it or cause or permit another to use it—
(a) to damage any property belonging to some other person, or
(b) to damage his own or the intended user’s property—
(i) in a way which he knows is likely to endanger the life of a person other than the possessor, or(ii) with intent to defraud,
(ii) with intent to defraud,
shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable—
(A) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £1,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both.and,
(B) on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding £10,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or both.
What if I can’t afford to pay?
Ultimately, if you’re unable to pay to have the clamp removed then your car will be seized by the authorities and destroyed. Or collected by bailiffs and sold to cover the cost of your debt. This process can take between 7-14 days.
In conclusion, you should be wary that your car has been clamped by a legally enforceable organisation. If not, then know your rights and don’t allow them to get away with charging you hefty fines for the removal of the clamp. Illegal clampers operate on private property. If your car is clamped on public property by a local authority, the DVLA, police or bailiffs, then you must follow the instructions provided to you. This usually involves telephoning to make a payment and arranging for the car to be un-clamped.