I was driving from Bristol to London and although the M4 was empty, I was driving at just under 60 mph because my fuel level was very low. Just outside Slough I was forced to pull over to the hard shoulder as my engine started to run out of power. I was lucky enough to have a plastic fuel container in the boot so I headed off to the nearest services.
One hour later I returned only to see that my car was being towed away. I was unable to stop the driver of the tow truck and had to face a very annoying fact: My car was going to be impounded!
2 days later I phoned around and was able to locate my poor car, it was being held in a police pound. I was told to bring various ID plus the release fee, at the time it was £180. The documents that I needed were as follows:
1. Proof of my address - essentially a household bill, bank statement or a council tax book - this wasn't a problem
2. Proof of ID - my driving licence would be sufficient for this requirement.
3. My insurance certificate.
4. Proof I owned the car - I took the registration documents.
The payment options were:
2. Debit Card
3. Credit Card
I was interested to note that the £180 charge was broken down into two parts: £150 for the actual release and £30 for the original infringement, in my case parking on the hard shoulder.
I realised that I had actually got off lightly because there was also a £20 daily charge for the storage. Despite the fact I was feeling hard done by, I had received a discount of £40 as the car had been there for 2 days.
I had enough cash for the total fee so I got a lift to the South London police car pound which was located in Wandsworth. Although I understood the need to tow away my car, I cursed my luck as my friend dropped me off outside the large compound.
The police officer on duty was slightly sympathetic when I explained my situation but he had probably heard this many times before. It took about 25 minutes to process the release of my car and he gave me directions that guided me to my car.
For anybody reading this, if you are unlucky enough to run out of fuel on a UK motorway, never ever leave your car unattended because it will end up costing you a lot more than a tank of petrol.