When Is A Vehicle Subject to Forfeiture of the Motor Vehicle
In many DWI cases the police or sheriffs department has the authority to seize and forfeit (keep and then sell) your motor vehicle. Vehicle forfeiture is covered by Minnesota Statute 169A.63. It is important to know that the offenses includes both DWI offenses and alcohol-related drivers license revocations arising from separate incidents. The motor vehicle used in a DWI offense may be seized and forfeited by the Police under the following circumstances:
1) The current offense is the 3rd offense within 10 years and the driver is now charged with DWI or test refusal. (Second Degree DWI).
2) The current offense is the 2nd offense within 10 years and the driver is now charged with DWI with a child under the age of 16 present, or driving with an alcohol level of 0.20% or more. (Second Degree DWI).
3) The current offense is the fourth offense within 10 years and the driver is now charged with felony DWI. (First Degree DWI).
4) The driver is charged with a DWI or test refusal while the drivers license is under cancellation for being inimical to public safety.
5) The driver is charged with a DWI or test refusal while the drivers license is subject to a restriction prohibiting consumption of any amount of alcohol or controlled substance (B-Card restriction).
The police can seize the vehicle immediately and keep possession of it while the criminal and forfeiture cases are pending. The arresting agency must issue a Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit the vehicle to the driver of the vehicle and to anyone else who may have an ownership or possessory interest in the vehicle and it MUST be done within 30 days of the forfeiture.
There are some defenses, such as a motor vehicle is subject to forfeiture under this law only if its owner knew or should have known of the unlawful use of the vehicle. If the driver is the owner, or one of joint owners then this not a defense, but if the vehicle is owned by someone who was not present when the DWI occurred and who had no knowledge that the driver would use it to violate this law, the owner has a legal defense against the forfeiture action.