It may seem like the police are acting illegally, but when your vehicle is seized without due process, the police can often be well within their rights to do so. However, in most cases vehicle forfeiture is not permanent. By knowing what steps to take when the police take your vehicle and why they are doing so, you can work to get it back.
When Can Police Seize Your Vehicle?
When a police officer is within their right to seize your vehicle, typically there are three different situations in which they can do so. These include:
Driving Under the Influence
The most common circumstance that results in the seizure of your vehicle is if you are placed under arrest for driving under the influence. In these cases, your vehicle forfeiture is not permanent. However, if you are on your third DWI charge within a 10 year span, on your second charge with aggravating factors, or your license is presently revoked or under restriction will your vehicle be seized.
Driving Without Proper Documentation
In many cases, an arrest is required in order for a vehicle to be seized. However, if you are pulled over and fail to provide the necessary documents such as your license, proof of insurance, or registration, then the vehicle can be seized by police without an arrest necessarily being made.
Preservation of Evidence
Outside of DWI arrests, the state is within its rights to seize your vehicle if you are under criminal investigation with the vehicle involved. For example, if you were pulled over and drugs or other contraband was found inside, the vehicle can be seized at police discretion if they believe that not doing so would result in the destruction of evidence. If your vehicle was used by another, but you can show clear proof that you had no knowledge or actively tried to prevent them from using it, then your vehicle forfeiture is not valid.
What to Do When a Vehicle is Seized?
When the police seize your vehicle, you will be left with a receipt from the seizure. If you were placed under arrest, you may receive the receipt when released from any confinement. If you were not at the scene when the vehicle forfeiture was carried out, the police still need to provide you with a receipt. If it was taken from your home, they may leave one at your residence. However, if the vehicle was found at the side of the road, then the receipt may be mailed to you.
Once a vehicle has been taken, it will head to the city’s impound lot. Within 15 days, you will receive notice in the mail, but can also find your vehicle by calling public works with your VIN number. In order to retrieve the vehicle, you simply need to go to impound with a valid license and proof of insurance.
While most vehicle forfeiture is temporary, there are some cases that can result in permanent forfeiture. These include if your license is revoked or if you fail to appear in court. In some cases, you can get your vehicle back prior to any charges that can result in permanent forfeiture. In these cases, you can post bond for your vehicle, but it will still be returned with a disabling device attached.
Have you been subject to vehicle forfeiture in Minnesota because of a DWI or any other crime? Contact us today to talk over your options. In many cases, getting your vehicle back is as simple as going to the impound lot. However, when facing charges that could result in permanent forfeiture, you need to fight them. Let Villaume & Schiek work to get you the best possible results.