New penalties to crackdown on 'cowboy wheel clampers'

The Government is cracking down on predatory wheel clampers by introducing a maximum clamping fine and harsh penalties for those who try to charge more.

There have been reports of people being slapped with excessive fines of up to $700 to have wheel clamps removed from their vehicles.

"Many New Zealanders have been horrified by the stories of clampers swooping in mere seconds after people have parked and then demanding excessive fees to free up their car," Minister of Transport Phil Twyford said.

The maximum charge for a removal of a wheel clamp will now be $100.

Police can fine individuals up to $1000 if they charge more, and companies can be fined  up to $5000. 

If the matter goes to the courts, individuals can be fined up to $3000 and companies $15,000. 

Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Kris Faafoi said: "The law has been sadly lacking and that has resulted in some of the cowboy operators charging outrageous fees."

The new measures will be brought in through an amendment to the Land Transport Act 1998. The Government plans to introduce the legislation to Parliament this year.