Vehicle and Property Forfeiture
Independent of any criminal charges, Minnesota law provides for motor vehicle forfeiture for certain DWI offenses. The DWI forfeiture law applies both to motor vehicles and recreational vehicles including motorboats, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and snowmobiles.
Minnesota DWI law authorizes motor vehicle forfeiture in the following situations:
(1) First- or Second-Degree DWI criminal offense;
(2) A DWI committed by a driver with a license that has been canceled by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS)as “inimical to public safety” and not reinstated at the time of the offense;
(3) A DWI violation by a driver with a license that has been restricted by the DPS, requiring the driver to abstain from the use of alcohol and non-prescribed drugs (also known as a “B-card” restriction).
In certain cases, Minnesota DWI law allows the government to forfeit a motor vehicle regardless of whether or not there is ultimately a criminal conviction. In these situations, the State may forfeit a motor vehicle solely based on an Implied Consent driver’s license revocation.
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Minnesota DWI law provides that the arresting law enforcement agency may seize the vehicle subject to forfeiture and requires that the prosecutor serve notice to the owner/owners of the State’s intent to forfeit. The forfeiture is conducted administratively, unless within 60 days the owner and/or the driver challenges the forfeiture action by filing for a judicial determination of the forfeiture.
Only the vehicle actually used to commit the DWI offense is subject to forfeiture. Other vehicles owned by the offender are not subject to forfeiture.
Our Minnesota DWI Lawyer will help you understand your options at this time
To protect innocent owners of motor vehicles used by drivers who commit DWI offenses, Minnesota DWI forfeiture law requires that the owner knew or should have known of the unlawful or intended use of the motor vehicle before the vehicle can be subject to forfeiture.
In circumstances where a motor vehicle subject to forfeiture is leased or subject to an outstanding loan, Minnesota DWI forfeiture law protects the interests of the lien holders (usually banks and other financial institutions). In these situations, a lien holder may choose to sell the motor vehicle at its own foreclosure sale or agree to a sale by the arresting agency. After the sale, a proportionate share of the proceeds goes to the lien holder, after certain expenses are deducted.
Following completion of the forfeiture proceeding, the motor vehicle will either be returned to the driver (or the owner), or (if the vehicle is forfeited) the arresting agency may keep the vehicle for its official use or sell the vehicle, provided that the interests of any valid lien holder is protected.
In other circumstances the government may attempt to forfeit property that was used in the commission of a crime. The property might be cash, guns or even a house or real estate.
If your vehicle or property has been forfeited or someone you know is facing forfeiture call our office to talk to someone about your legal rights as soon as possible. Failure to act in a timely manner often leads to automatic forfeiture of the property.