Police in Antwerp will soon have the power to confiscate the vehicles of street-racers and other dangerous drivers, without the need for a court order. The new power comes from an administrative regulation, and differs from a court-ordered seizure in that the police will not be able to sell the vehicle. Instead it will be towed away at a cost of 250 euros, and kept in a pound at a rate of 25 euros a day for a minimum period of 14 days, at the expense of the owner – a total of at least 600 euros before a cent is levied in fines.
In the case of a rental vehicle, the renter will be liable for any additional charges by the rental company while the vehicle is in custody.
“We have found that these people are best tackled through their wallets,” said Philippe Beinaerts, spokesperson for Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever. The city is regularly the scene for illegal street races, with expensive vehicles driving at speeds of over 100km/h in a zone 30.
De Wever himself told the VRT, “It might be possible to impose other measures, such as a course of responsible driving, that could influence the length of time a vehicle is held.” Otherwise, he said, the bill could rapidly top 1,000 euros.
A similar measure has been used in the past against recalcitrant dangerous drivers in Mechelen, but there it was considered only in exceptional circumstances. In Antwerp, De Wever intends to make seizure routine.
De Wever rejected criticism that he is using his public order powers to circumvent the road traffic law. “This measure will be employed in conjunction with the criminal law,” his spokesman said. “We have been in discussion with the prosecutor’s office.”
The new rule must first be approved by the city council, after which it can come into force on 1 May.