Vehicles seized after accidents

I was recently involved in an accident, after which police seized my car. This instantly raised questions about the legality of doing this. Friends told me that the police have no such right, but people from my insurance company told me that this is common practice in Thailand. Is there a law that allows police to seize a vehicle involved in an accident? If there is, what are the circumstances or requirements that empower police to do so? Why would they need to do this? How long are police allowed to hold the vehicle?

Wolfgang Opl, Chalong.

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Police are empowered by law to seize every vehicle involved in an accident because the vehicle is considered material evidence in determining the cause of the accident. Forensics officers are required to investigate the vehicle’s working condition before it was in the accident, and to determine facts such as whether the brakes or the lights were working or not. How long this takes depends on how much work police have at the time. In the meantime, the owner of the vehicle is entitled to a signed copy of the accident report so he can lodge a claim with his insurance company. Once the vehicle has been inspected, the owner may reclaim it.

Pol Lt Col Teeraphol Thipjaroen, Deputy Superintendent, Phuket Town Police Station.

Answered on December 28, 2001.
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