What is a Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit Vehicle?
Was your car taken away because of a DWI, controlled substance case, prostitution charge, fleeing a police officer, or for some other reason? If so, you likely received a Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit Vehicle from the state. Most importantly, you must be aware you have sixty days to challenge your vehicle being taken away. It does not matter if you win your case, if you fail to file the appropriate paperwork with the court to contest your car being taken from you, then you will lose it, unless the prosecution is being extra nice and is just willing to give it back to you.
Currently, there are various defenses you or your attorney can raise if the state did take your car. Even if you are ultimately found guilty of the underlying charge, there are due process arguments to make and innocent owner defenses in some cases.
Most commonly, a person’s car will be forfeited for alcohol-related offenses. A vehicle is subject to forfeiture in First and Second Degree DWI charges, Driving After Cancellation – Inimical to Public Safety, and B Card Violations (no use of alcohol restriction on a person’s driver’s license). Significantly, law enforcement forfeits your vehicle for just being charged with one of the above offenses, which makes challenging them taking your car away even more important.
Another growing trend, is the state taking away a person’s car being for a controlled substance crime. If drugs are found on you, or in your vehicle, and you are later charged with possession of a controlled substance or intent to sell, then law enforcement may decide to forfeit your vehicle. Additionally, your car may be taken form you in solicitation of prostitute cases and fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle. The same general procedures apply in contesting these forfeitures. The most important thing to decide is whether you are going to file a petition for judicial review, or administrative review, within sixty days of receiving the Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit Vehicle. Most commonly, lawyers will file a petition for judicial review in MN district court.
What is a Notice and Order of License Plate Impoundment?
If you received a Notice and Order of License Plate Impoundment, then it probably means you got a MN DWI with an alcohol concentration of .16 or more or you have a prior DWI within the past ten years. There are other scenarios that trigger license plate impoundment, such as Driving After Cancellation Inimical to Public Safety, but the aforementioned ones are the most common ways to get your license plates taken away.
By the time you retrieve your vehicle, the police officers may have already taken your license plates off your car. If not, the Notice and Order of License Plate Impoundment will direct you to surrender or destroy the plates within seven days. Importantly, license plate impoundment applies to the vehicle you were driving at the time and any other vehicles registered in your name, even jointly owned. This can often trigger multiple vehicles within a family. And, nobody wants to have to put whiskey plates (also referred to as DWI plates or special registration plates) on their vehicle. If you do not want to have those plates on your vehicle, then you must challenge it through an administrative or judicial review. The judicial review process can be combined with the driver’s license revocation challenge. Not only do you need to win that challenge, but you also must get your DWI charges dismissed to get the license plate impoundment order rescinded.
If someone else was driving your car, and you were not a passenger, and your license plates were impounded because of a DWI they received, then you should do an administrative review and ask for your regular plates back. This can be done by faxing in the appropriate form to the Department of Public Safety. Upon receiving the request for administrative review, they will look up the police report for your case to make sure you were not in the vehicle.
Upon a DWI arrest or conviction, you may have received a Notice and Order of License Revocation. This is an order stating that your driver’s license is being taken away for a period of time because of having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more, refusing an evidentiary test, or otherwise being convicted of a DWI at the end of your criminal case. There are other scenarios that may trigger a Notice and Order of License Revocation, such as being charged with Criminal Vehicular Operation (CVO), so make sure to read the notice to see what exactly the reason is for the revocation.
After receiving a notice for driver’s license revocation, it is important to understand your rights. Typically, you have two options: (1) just take it on the chin and move on, or (2) challenge your license revocation through a Petition for Judicial Review. The former scenario is generally not the end of the world. Most people are eligible for a work permit or restricted driver’s license with ignition interlock.
If it is your first MN offense and your alcohol concentration was under .16, or you refused the test on your first offense, then you should be eligible for a limited license (a.k.a. work permit). To get your limited license, you just need to go to the DMV and pay the reinstatement fee, which is currently $680, take a DWI / Drug Knowledge test on the computer (covering chapters 7 & 8 in the driver’s manual), and make application for new license. You will also have to talk with a driver evaluator who will set the parameters of your limited license (i.e. what hours you are allowed to drive and where you are allowed to drive to).
For those who test at least double the legal limit or have a prior DWI within the past ten years, or multiple DWIs in a lifetime, you will likely need to get ignition interlock to drive a vehicle during your revocation period. If you do not want to get ignition interlock, then you can ride out your revocation period without getting a license as long as your license has not been canceled. If your license has been canceled inimical to public safety, then ignition interlock is often a requirement to getting your license back. This is typically for those who are facing three or more years without your driver’s license.