Vehicle Seizure and Recovery

When peace officers are witness to certain offences under the Highway Safety Code, they can seize and impound vehicles for 7, 30 or 90 days. Vehicle owners must claim their vehicles no later than 10 days after the end of the impoundment period.

What you should know

When peace officers intercept drivers who are committing certain offences under the Highway Safety Code, they can seize and impound vehicles for 7, 30 or 90 days.

If the seized vehicle does not belong to the driver, the driver must inform the vehicle's owner of the seizure without delay.

Seizure and impoundment applies to the vehicle of any owner who loans or rents a vehicle to an offender.

Useful information

Before lending or renting your vehicle to someone

Check the validity of that person's driver's licence. You could save yourself a lot of trouble and avoid having your vehicle seized!

Reasons for seizure

  • The driver's licence has been suspended or revoked
  • The driver does not hold a valid driver's licence or does not hold a licence of the appropriate class for the vehicle being driven
  • The driver is driving a heavy vehicle without holding a licence with an F, M or T endorsement
  • The driver has not abided by the obligation to drive only a vehicle equipped with an alcohol ignition interlock deviceA device that prevents a vehicle from starting when it detects the presence of alcohol in the driver’s body. or has failed to abide by the terms and conditions of use of the device
  • The driver has not abided by certain conditions attached to his or her driver's licence
  • The driver either has a blood alcohol concentration above 160 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, or refuses to provide a breath or blood sample or perform physical coordination tests
  • The driver is a repeat drinking and driving offender
  • The driver is pulled over for excessive speeding in a zone of 60 km/h or less and has already been convicted of at least one excessive speeding offence in the previous 10 years
  • The driver is participating in a street race, wager or stake
  • The driver has authorized or tolerated car surfing, that is, someone riding on the running board or an outer part of the vehicle, or in the box or dump body of the vehicle, or hanging onto or being pulled or pushed by the vehicle
  • The driver is driving a heavy vehicle after having been prohibited from doing so by the Commission des transports du Québec (CTQ), or after the owner or operator of the vehicle was prohibited from operating the vehicle or putting it into operation
  • The driver offers or provides a taxi transportation service without holding the appropriate licence class and a taxi permit

Reasons allowing a vehicle to be released before the end of the impoundment period

If you wish to recover your vehicle before the end of the seizure and impoundment period, please note that you can only apply to have your vehicle released from seizure in the following cases:

If you are the owner but were not driving the vehicle when it was seized

  • You were not aware that the licence of the driver was under penalty, despite having made inquiries to find out
  • You were not aware that the driver did not hold the appropriate class of licence for the vehicle being driven, despite having made inquiries to find out
  • You did not consent to the driver taking your vehicle
  • You could not foresee that the driver:
    • would drive your vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of over 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood
    • would refuse to provide a breath or blood sample to a peace officer
    • would commit an excessive speeding offence in a zone of 60 km/h or less
  • You could not foresee that the driver:
    • would participate in a street race
    • would tolerate car surfing, that is, someone riding on the running board or an outer part of a vehicle in motion, or in the box or dump body of the vehicle, or hanging onto or being pulled or pushed by the vehicle
    •  would offer or provide a taxi transportation service without holding the appropriate licence class and a taxi permit

If you are the owner and were driving the vehicle when it was seized

If your vehicle was seized and impounded because you were driving it without a valid licence (if you failed to pay the renewal fees for your licence), you may only recover it in the following case:

  • your driver’s licence is once again valid because you paid the necessary fees and renewed it at an SAAQ service outlet

If your vehicle was seized because you were driving while your licence was under penalty, only the following reason can be put forward:

  • you were not aware that your licence was under penalty

If your vehicle was seized for street racing, only the following reason can be put forward:

  • You did not drive the vehicle in a street race, or for a wager or stake

If your vehicle was seized for car surfing, only the following reason can be put forward:

  • You did not authorize or tolerate car surfing, that is, someone riding on the running board or an outer part of a vehicle in motion, or in the box or dump body of the vehicle, or hanging onto or being pulled or pushed by the vehicle

If your vehicle was seized for offering or providing a taxi transportation service without holding the appropriate licence class and a taxi permit, only the following reason can be put forward:

  • You did not offer or provide a taxi transportation service without holding the appropriate licence class and a taxi permit

If your vehicle was seized for any of the following reasons, you can recover it only if you can prove that you did not commit the offence in question:

  • blood alcohol concentration above 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood
  • blood alcohol concentration above 160 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood
  • refusal to provide a breath or blood sample
  • failure to stop at the scene of an accident or while being pursued by a police officer, or refusal to obey an order, with a previous Criminal Code conviction
  • excessive speeding in a zone of 60 km/h or less

To prove you did not commit the offence in question, you must file an Application for a review of the suspension of your licence or of your right to obtain one (PDF, 122 KB).

How to claim your vehicle during or after the impoundment period

Recovering your vehicle during the impoundment period

If any of the reasons listed above apply to you and you wish to recover your vehicle before the end of the impoundment period, you can either:

  • file an application with the SAAQ to have your vehicle released from seizure
  • OR

  • file an application for release from seizure with a judge of the Court of Québec

Filing an application with the SAAQ to have your vehicle released from seizure

Step 1 – Complete the Application for Vehicle Release from Seizure (PDF, 121 KB) form

This form is also available in our service outlets.

Step 2  Send us your application

You must send us the Application for Vehicle Release from Seizure form, along with the documents you are required to enclose with it.

By mail

Service du suivi du privilège de circuler
Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec
333, boulevard Jean-Lesage
Case postale 19500, succursale Terminus
Québec (Québec) G1K 8J5

By fax

Québec area: 418-643-2200
Elsewhere (Québec, Canada, United States): 1-866-680-1939

Step 3  Await our decision

Favourable decision

If the release of your vehicle is authorized, make an appointment with the pound's representative in order to pay the vehicle's towing and impoundment fees. You can then claim your vehicle.

Warning

Note that the Court of Québec has exclusive jurisdiction if…

Your vehicle was seized because the person driving the vehicle was street racing or car surfing, or was offering or providing a taxi transportation service without holding the appropriate licence class and a taxi permit.

Recovering your vehicle after the impoundment period

You have a maximum of 10 days from the end of the impoundment period to claim your vehicle.

Step 1  Make an appointment with the pound's representative

You must make an appointment with the representative of the pound where your vehicle is being held. The pound's contact information is provided on the statement of seizure.

Step 2  Pay the towing and impoundment fees

You will be able to claim your vehicle only once the towing and impoundment fees have been paid.

Make sure you bring a valid driver's licence with you. If your vehicle is prohibited from road use, it will have to be towed at your expense.

Personalized licence plate

If the seized vehicle bears a personalized licence plate, and you do not recover the vehicle, the personalized licence plate will be destroyed and you will not be able to have it reprinted.

If you do not claim your vehicle by the prescribed deadline

In the 10 days following the expiry of the deadline, you and any other person or business that has a right to the vehicle (such as a creditor or a long-term lessee registered in the register of personal and movable real rights) will receive a notice informing you that you must recover the vehicle. If the vehicle is valued at more than $3,000, the notice will also be published in various newspapers.

If you disregard the notice

The following steps will be taken:

If the vehicle is valued at $3,000 or less

We will transfer ownership of the vehicle to the pound custodian in payment of the towing and impoundment fees.

If the vehicle is valued at more than $3,000

We will sell the vehicle. The proceeds from the sale will be used to, among other things:

  • cover management fees for the disposal of an unclaimed impounded vehicle.
  • reimburse the pound custodian and any creditors
  • settle any unpaid fines and fees owed by the owner of the vehicle

The remaining balance, if any, will be remitted to the person who was the owner of the vehicle at the time of the seizure.

Note: In both cases, you must pay the management fees for the disposal of an unclaimed impounded vehicle; otherwise, you will lose the right to obtain or renew your driver’s licence, or to register a vehicle or renew your vehicle registration. For information regarding these fees, see the table “Disposal of an unclaimed impounded vehicle” on the Fees for other services page.