Frequently Asked Questions

Why can the police seize my vehicle?
I received a notice that my impoundment period is now 90 days. Why was it extended?
I was not driving. Can I get my vehicle out of the impound garage immediately?
How do I know if I am eligible to apply for a hearing to revoke an impoundment?
I was not the driver, but I was in the vehicle when it was seized. Will this make a difference at the hearing?
I was the driver, but the vehicle is registered to a company owned by me. Can I apply for a hearing?
I did not give the driver permission to take my motor vehicle. Do I have to apply for a hearing?
If I sold the motor vehicle, can the new registrant apply for a hearing?
Does the law apply only to on-road motor vehicles?
I believe MPI made a mistake with my licence, indicating that I was suspended when I am not. How can I correct the mistake?
I was unlicensed, not suspended. Can the police still seize my vehicle?
My vehicle was not registered, but I have a valid licence. Can the police still seize my vehicle?
I wasn’t driving when the police seized my vehicle. Can the police still seize my vehicle?
Can someone else take my place at the hearing and claim my vehicle?


Why can the police seize my motor vehicle?

Section 242.1, Seizure and Impoundment of Vehicles for Certain Offences of The HTA allows for a vehicle to be impounded for a minimum of 30 days if the driver is driving while:

  1. disqualified or prohibited
  2. intoxicated with a blood alcohol content over .08.

It also allows for a vehicle to be impounded for a minimum of 60 days if the driver:

  1. is driving while intoxicated with a blood alcohol content over .16
  2. fails or refuses a breath/oral fluid/urine/blood demand
  3. refuses to take a field sobriety test or fails to follow instructions about the test
  4. refuses to take a drug recognition evaluation test or fails to follow instructions about the test

I received a notice that my impoundment period is now 90 days. Why was it extended?

A registrant, who is considered a repeat offender by VIR, will have the current impoundment period extended according to guidelines established by section 242.1(7.1.1) and (7.1.2) of The HTA. Every seizure the owner has had within five years of the current seizure, which was not

  • cancelled by a Justice
  • released because it was a stolen vehicle
  • deemed a wrongful seizure by the VIR

qualifies to extend the current impoundment period.

For a seizure for Drive suspended, Prohibited or over .08, the motor vehicle is impounded for 30 days and is extended by 60 days for every qualifying previous seizure.

For a seizure for Over .16, Refusal, Refusal FST or Refusal DRE, the vehicle is impounded for 60 days and is extended by 120 days for one qualifying previous seizure. The impoundment period increases by 60 days for a second and every subsequent qualifying seizure.


I was not driving, can I get my motor vehicle out immediately?

No, but you may be eligible to apply for a hearing at a Court Office where you can ask a Justice to cancel the impoundment. Then, you can claim the vehicle sooner.

In Winnipeg, go to 408 York Ave. (the Law Courts Building), go to counter 100D and ask to apply for a hearing to revoke an impoundment. Bring your copy of the Notice of Seizure. The cost to apply is $100 (guaranteed funds). You will be given a hearing date (within two business days). At the hearing, you will talk to a Justice.


How do I know if I am eligible to apply for a hearing to revoke an impoundment?

At the time of the offence:

  • If you were the registrant of the vehicle and were not the driver, you can apply for a hearing for all offences.
  • If you were the registrant of the vehicle and also the driver, you can apply for a hearing only if the offence was drive suspended or prohibited.
  • If you were the registrant of the motor vehicle and were the driver, you cannot apply for a hearing if the offence was Over .08, Over. 16, Refusal, Refusal FST or Refusal DRE.
  • If you were the owner or additional owner of the vehicle, you have the same right to a hearing as the registrant.

I was not the driver, but I was in the vehicle when it was seized. Does this make a difference at the hearing?

Yes, it may. For the offences of suspended or prohibited, you may be able to convince the Justice that you did not know the driver was suspended or prohibited. For any of the impaired offences, it will be difficult for you to convince the Justice that you did not know the driver was impaired. In cases where the registrant was in the motor vehicle with an impaired driver, court staff may refuse to take your application for a hearing.


I was the driver but the motor vehicle is registered to a company owned by me. Can I apply for a hearing?

The company has the right of a hearing for all offences. If the offence was suspended or prohibited, you can apply for the hearing. If the offence was impaired, you cannot apply for a hearing. Someone else representing the company must make the application.

In this type of relationship between the driver and registrant, the Justice may refuse to hear the application and cancel the hearing or hear the application and continue the impoundment.


I did not give the driver permission to take my motor vehicle. Do I have to apply for a hearing?

Yes. However, if the vehicle was stolen and the driver was charged, the motor vehicle can be released immediately. Contact VIR at 204-945-4454 in Winnipeg (1-866-626-4862 ext 4454) for more information.


If I sold the vehicle, can the new registrant apply for a hearing?

No. Only the registrant or owner at the time of the offence may apply for a hearing.


Does the law apply only to on-road motor vehicles?

No. Under the seizure and impoundment legislation (s.242.1(1) of The HTA), the definition of a “motor vehicle” includes some off-road vehicles, including golf carts, riding lawn mowers and snowmobiles.

Power-assisted bicycles or hand-built vehicles, retrofitted with a motor, can also be defined as motor vehicles. Like other motor vehicles, they can be seized and impounded.


I believe MPI made a mistake with my licence, indicating that I was suspended when I am not. How can I correct the mistake?

If you believe you were not suspended or prohibited at the time of the offence, contact VIR at 204-945-4454 in Winnipeg (1-866-626-4862 ext 4454) to verify your driver’s licence status. If you were not suspended or prohibited, the seizure would be considered wrongful and VIR would issue an Order to Release to allow the registrant to claim the vehicle immediately.

NOTE (1): Under s.92(2) and 92(3) of The Drivers and Vehicle Act, MPI may suspend a person’s driver’s licence if a person owes money to the government or MPI.

NOTE (2) While the end date of the suspension may have passed, it does not automatically mean the suspension of your licence has been lifted. You may need to complete other requirements to remove the suspension.


I was unlicensed not suspended. Can the police still seize my vehicle?

If you were unlicensed, contact VIR at 204-945-4454 (1-866-626-4862 ext 4454) to verify your driver’s licence status. If you were unlicensed, the seizure would be considered wrongful and VIR would issue an Order to Release to allow the registrant to claim the motor vehicle immediately.

NOTE (1) police can still seize a motor vehicle being driven by an unlicensed driver, but the registrant may claim the motor vehicle immediately (and would be responsible for towing costs).

NOTE (2) even if the driver has never applied for a driver’s licence, Manitoba Public Insurance may have assigned a driver’s licence to the driver and then suspended that driver’s licence.


My motor vehicle was unregistered, but I have a valid licence. Can the police still seize my vehicle?

The police may seize an unregistered motor vehicle, but should not issue a Notice of Seizure and the motor vehicle cannot be impounded for 30 days; the seizure would be considered wrongful and VIR would issue an Order to Release to allow the registrant to claim the motor vehicle immediately. Contact VIR at 204-945-4454 in Winnipeg (1-866-626-4862 ext 4454) and we will verify the status of the registration.

The registrant may claim the motor vehicle from the garage keeper once the motor vehicle has been registered, or, after the registrant has made arrangements to have the motor vehicle towed.


I wasn’t driving when the police seized my motor vehicle. Can the police still seize my vehicle?

Yes, the police may have a witness statement which gives them reason to believe you were driving a motor vehicle while suspended, prohibited or impaired. Police may also seize the motor vehicle if the officer reasonably believes you have or had “care and control” of the motor vehicle while suspended, prohibited or impaired.


Can someone else attend the hearing and claim my vehicle?

The registrant, owner or additional owner may authorize someone to apply for the hearing, or to claim the vehicle from the garage keeper, but only the registrant, owner or additional owner at the time of the offence may attend a hearing.

To authorize someone to act on your behalf, you must write a letter stating that you authorize that person to set a hearing, or to claim the vehicle, sign it and attach a copy of your driver’s licence.