What is anti-social use of a vehicle?

Ever seen people riding e-scooters on a pavement? Or watched a group of mates performing car doughnuts in a field?
Many people see such antics as just a bit of harmless fun. But to pedestrians and local residents, they can cause a huge nuisance – and in some cases, pose a significant danger.
That’s why police might well seize vehicles that are being used in an anti-social manner, and impound them until their owners pay fines and admin costs. They might need impounded car insurance before they’re reunited with their set of wheels.

So find out how to stay on the right side of the law by reading our introduction to anti-social use of vehicles.

What’s the problem?

Driving a vehicle in a reckless way can feel aggressive, intimidating or annoying to other road users and people living nearby.
First of all, there’s the noise nuisance. This might not seem like such a big deal, but it has a huge negative effect on people’s quality of life. If people are driving recklessly at night through a residential area, they’ll be waking up dozens of others who’ve got to go to work or school the next day.
Air pollution from revving engines or tyre smoke is also unpleasant and unhealthy to anybody unfortunate enough to breathe it in.
Also, there’s the risk of damage to land or property. Nobody wants their local park ripped up by tyre marks, the wing mirrors broken on their parked car, or their garden fence shattered.
And worst of all, anti-social driving can hurt people. Take stunts, for example: riders or drivers might think they’re in control of a manoeuvre, but it only takes a slip of the foot on the pedals, or a momentary lapse in concentration, before someone gets injured – even fatally. It could be a child, a friend, or the drivers themselves.
So no matter how exciting or tempting it seems at the time, don’t use your vehicle for any purpose other than transporting you or others safely from A to B. It’s really not worth it.

What does the law say?

You might hear the phrases Section 3, Section 34 or Section 59 bandied about. They all refer to legislation governing anti-social driving behaviour.
Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002 gives uniformed constables the power to act if they have reason to believe a vehicle is being driven either in contravention of Section 3 or 34 (see below); or in a manner which “is causing, or is likely to cause, alarm, distress or annoyance to members of the public”.
Officers have the power to order anti-social drivers to stop. They must then issue a warning, unless they have reason to believe one has already been issued or circumstances make it impossible to do so. If drivers ignore the warning and continue to drive in an anti-social manner, officers can seize their vehicles.
Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 states: “If a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, he is guilty of an offence.”
Examples of careless or inconsiderate driving include driving through a red light or overtaking using the inside lane, but see the sections below for examples of anti-social driving which might lead to the police seizing vehicles.
Section 34 of the same act makes it an offence to drive a vehicle off-road without permission from the landowner.
If police seize your vehicle, it will be taken to the pound, and you might need to take out impounded car insurance before you’re allowed to drive it away again. You’ll have to present your policy document to prove you’re covered. Plus, of course, you could well face fines, points on your licence, and other penalties, too.
So what kinds of driving do the police regard as anti-social? We’ve listed a few of the main ones below.

Street racing

Ever been cut up by another driver, and been tempted to ‘prove yourself’ by getting into a race with them? Resist that urge!
Running red lights, weaving through traffic, and embarking on a high-speed chase is a recipe for disaster. It could easily lead to serious or even fatal injury.
It’s also intimidating for other road users, and noisy for nearby residents. On a larger scale, street racing makes people scared to leave their homes, and spoils neighbourhoods.
If the police catch you – and chances are high that they will – you’re looking at severe penalties. For a start, they’re likely to seize your vehicle, meaning that you’ll probably have to fork out for impounded car insurance to get it back from the pound. Fines, bans, and other penalties could be on the cards, too.


Street cruising

This is when a group of drivers or riders get together to drive around slowly, often spreading out to take up both sides of the road and block other users.
It’s common among bikers as well as car drivers, and the aim is usually to show off vehicles. It might well be enjoyable for you to take part with all your buddies. But really, everybody else is just highly irritated, as they sit in traffic waiting for you all to pass!
The sight of a large group of bikes or cars can be pretty intimidating for vulnerable road users, too.
The police take a dim view of deliberate blocking of roads, so they might well issue drivers or riders with a warning. If the warning is ignored and the street cruising continues, police will then take action to seize vehicles.

Stunts and tricks

You know those stunts you see in movies? They are carried out under careful supervision by trained and experienced experts. Not by a teenager driving or riding his dad’s Skoda or Suzuki.

So if you’re thinking of trying out doughnuts down your local park, or wheelies in a supermarket car park, think again. You’re liable to get the vehicle seized by police and you’ll have to take out impounded car insurance to get it back again.
Of course, that’s not the worst case scenario. The reason the police will take action is because they don’t want you or anyone else to get hurt. So it really is best just to go and watch the latest James Bond movie instead.

Unlicensed power vehicles

In the past few years, a huge number of light electric powered vehicles have come onto the market. They look like a great way of getting around, and they’re often considered an environmentally friendly alternative to larger petrol vehicles – but riding one could land you in trouble.
Private e-scooters, hoverboards and so on can only be ridden on public or private roads or land with the landowner’s permission. The same goes for trail or quad bikes, unless they’ve got valid number plates.
So if you live in a rural area, you could ask a local farmer to try them out on a track – but otherwise, they’re off limits.
You might wonder why these vehicles are on sale at all, if they can’t be ridden anywhere. And you’ve probably seen dozens of e-scooters being ridden around your town or city.
That’s because the law is under review, and in many towns and cities, there are trial e-scooter rental schemes under way. So you can ride an e-scooter rented from one of those licensed operators – but you still need to abide by certain regulations, including staying off the pavements.
Note that electric bicycles are covered by different legislation, and there are many models on the market that you can ride legally, so long as you stick to road traffic rules.

Off-road use

You can’t ride or drive motorised vehicles off-road without the landowner’s permission.
So vehicles aren’t allowed on public land unless you’ve got permission from the local authority. Nor can you ride them on private land, unless it’s been okayed by the landowner.
That goes for vehicles specially designed for off-road use, such as quad bikes, as well as Land Rovers, other four-wheel drives, or any other motorised vehicle.
If you’re keen to explore smaller tracks, why not try mountain biking or horse riding instead? And if you want to try footpaths, it’s time to lace up your hiking boots. Remember to park legally before you stride off!

Get a quote from Insurance Factory today

If your vehicle is seized by the police or local authority, it will be taken to your local pound. As well as paying fines and admin fees, you might well need to take out specialist insurance before you’re allowed to drive your vehicle away.
At Insurance Factory, we don’t judge people who require impounded car insurance. We just make the process simpler for you by searching a panel of insurance providers to find you the right policy. That means you can then prove to the pound that you’re covered, and they’ll release the vehicle back to you.
Policies we arrange can include cover for 30 or 365 days. So if your vehicle has been seized, contact us now for cover.
Get a quick quote today.

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.