Abandoned vehicles
Produced in partnership with Jonathan Melnick
Abandoned vehicles

The following Local Government guidance note Produced in partnership with Jonathan Melnick provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Abandoned vehicles
  • Abandoned vehicles offences
  • Sentences for abandoning a vehicle
  • Duty of local authority in respect of abandoned vehicle
  • Meaning of road or other land
  • Disposal of an abandoned vehicle
  • Recovery of expenses

Abandoned vehicles offences

Section 2 of the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978 (RD(A)A 1978) makes it a criminal offence to abandon, without lawful authority, a motor vehicle on any land in the open air or on any other land forming part of a highway. It is also an offence to abandon anything which formed part of a motor vehicle and was removed from it during the course of dismantling the vehicle on the land.

Where the vehicle is not abandoned but is parked on the road and is causing a nuisance to residents and road users, this may also be an offence. See Practice Note: Nuisance parking criminal offences.

Sentences for abandoning a vehicle

The maximum penalty on summary conviction is a level 4 fine (currently £2,500), three months imprisonment or both.

RD(A)A 1978, s 2A permits an authorised officer of a local authority to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) as an alternative to prosecution for the offence. The fixed penalty is set at £200. See Practice Note: Penalty notices following LASPO 2012.

Duty of local authority in respect of abandoned vehicle

RD(A)A 1978, s 3 imposes a duty on a local authority to remove abandoned vehicles. However, this duty does not apply where the cost of removing a vehicle to the nearest convenient carriageway is