Reckless drivers will have to pay fines up to Dh50,000 to get their cars released for serious traffic offences in Abu Dhabi.
Any road and traffic offence in the UAE includes a fine and the car can be confiscated depending on the severity of the crime.
A car can be impounded when a driver jumps a red light, is dangerous or reckless on the road, is involved in unauthorised road racing, and deliberately collides into a police car.
Dangerous driving was responsible for the death of more than 60 people in the capital last year.
The new rule was enforced on Wednesday. Guilty drivers will also have their licence confiscated for six months.
Drivers will also have their cars seized if they allow children below 10 to sit in the front seat of a vehicle or use a car without a valid number plate.
A motorist who has accumulated more than Dh7,000 in fines will also have his car impounded.
The car will be released once all dues are cleared.
Brig Gen Suhail Al Khaili, head of central operations in Abu Dhabi Police, said the listed offences have caused 41 per cent of road deaths, and 47 per cent of severe road injuries since 2017.
Last year, such behaviour on roads resulted in 894 crashes, 66 deaths, and 64 severe injuries, and more than 1,200 moderate and minor injuries.
“Abu Dhabi Police studies the causes of road accidents on a regular basis and adjusts punishments accordingly to deter people from committing those offences,” he said.
“And whether the violation [ends up] causing a crash or not, the goal is to correct motorists’ behaviour so everybody should undergo the stricter punishment.”
In the past, many reckless drivers were fined and jailed but that did not change their driving behaviour.
“We’ve witnessed many repeats, so the punishment wasn’t deterrent enough,” said Brig Gen Al Khaili.
Those who unintentionally collide with a police car will not be penalised, he said.
“There have been instances where drivers deliberately crash into a police patrol to prevent them from doing their job,” he said.
Motorists who fail to claim their impounded cars to avoid paying the fines - which sometimes may exceed the value of the car - will still be held accountable.
“The fines will be attached to their traffic code instead of the car,” he said.
Motorists have the right to appeal their case before a special committee.
The police will hold the car for three months before auctioning it to the public.
At the end of three months, authorities will publish a notice in the press and give another month to the owner to clear the fines and take possession of the vehicle.
The sale money will be used to settle outstanding fines.
Earlier, the cars were kept in yards for six months for the owners to show up and claim them back.
If the owner is out of the country, he can get the car back only if he clears the fines and it has not been transferred to another person.
In case of transfer of ownership, the sale money will be given to the original owner once he clears the outstanding dues.