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In certain circumstances, wheel-clamping device can be put on a vehicle if it is parked improperly on public parking land or they are untaxed and on a public road.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) uses a nationwide grid of automatic number plate recognition cameras to spot untaxed vehicles on English roads. Working in conjunction with local authories, or utilising their own employees the DVLA can choose to clamp a vehicle. It can be very expensive to remove the device from your car, but if left unpaid, the DVLA has the authority to tow cars away. Local authories such as the police may also choose to temporarily clamp a vehicle to prevent it from moving whilst it’s removal is arrange if the vehicle is suspected to be stolen, abandoned, un-insured or in breach of any number of motoring offences.


Is Clamping Illegal?

It is illegal to clamp, block or tow away a vehicle parked on private land or property unless you have lawful authority. Lawful authorities are only considered to be organisations such as the police, DVLA and local authorities.

Wheel clamping on public land, including roads and public car parks, is legal in England if the car is improperly parked or untaxed. However, this can only be done by Authorised Bodies such as the local council, the police or the DVLA.

No private organisation can clamp a vehicle.


DVLA Clamping Rules

The DVLA or relevant local authority will act when a vehicle is parked illegally on public land, contravening parking restrictions or causing an obstruction. Your car might also be removed from a public road by Civil Enforcement Officers if you have not paid a number of Penalty Charge Notices.

Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) enforcement officers can also clamp or tow cars when a vehicle is considered dangerous to other road users.

Local authorities also have the legal right to clamp vehicles and tow them away if the driver does not have car tax or insurance. If a car is causing a hazard or has been abandoned, they are likely to remove it from the road rather than clamping it. Vehicles displaying valid Blue Badge ownership, issued to disabled drivers or passengers should not be clamped.

If you have been legally clamped by one of the Authorised Bodies, follow the instructions attached to the vehicle to pay a fee to get the clamping device removed. You might be asked to pay over the phone or be given a period of around 14 days. Do not try to attempt to forcibly remove the wheel clamp yourself, as you might be prosecuted for criminal damage, not to mention the fact you may harm yourself or your vehicle in the process.


DVLA Clamping rules on Private Land

Wheel clamping on private land by a private company is illegal. Under some circumstances, and only with good reason, the police, the DVLA or the local authority can instruct for a car to be clamped by a private company on their behalf.

Private landowners, such as home or business owners, can work in conjunction with a registered and reputable Car Parking Management company if cars are parked unlawfully on their property, but they cannot legally clamp vehicles.


Advice on Wheel Clamping for Private Landowners

As a landowner with private parking spaces, you might feel annoyed by unauthorised vehicles using your car park and taking away the spaces designated for your staff and visitors. Car clamping by private companies is illegal in the UK, so if you are looking for effective car park management solutions, this is not a viable option.

However, there are a number of other solutions out there, such as electronic barriers and pay stations that can help clamp down (no pun intended) on unauthorised vehicles parked on your property. Having the ability to charge vehicle owners for their use of the car park can inject some extra profit into your business, which can be put to other uses.

Staff and visitors can be issued with parking permits that will exempt them from paying, whilst allowing your car parking management partner the powers to issue parking charge notifications to those drivers who do not comply with the rules.

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