Vehicle Forfeiture / Plate Impoundment

Twin Cities Area Vehicle Forfeiture Lawyer

The consequences of a DWI conviction can be far-reaching. However, when a person’s vehicle is involved, the aftermath of a DWI charge could be devastating. In some cases, a driver could face losing his or her vehicle through forfeiture or having his or her license plate impounded.

Both of these administrative penalties could have a serious effect on a person’s livelihood. However, it is important to know your options when handling these sanctions. Drivers can fight the penalties through administrative processes. An experienced DWI attorney can help you throughout the legal process.

Apple Valley Vehicle Forfeiture and Plate Impoundment Attorney

If you have been charged with a DWI, it is important to act immediately to protect your driving privileges. Contact vehicle forfeiture and plate impoundment lawyer James Blumberg to begin fighting your administrative penalties.

James has experience on both sides of the law, and he can help you through the administrative processes as well as the criminal charges. He understands how important it is to keep your vehicle and your right to drive.

Call (952) 431-7758 to schedule a free consultation today. James Blumberg Law represents clients throughout Dakota County, including Burnsville, Eagan, Hastings, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville, Mendota Heights and Rosemount, as well as anywhere in the Twin Cities region, including Hennepin County, Ramsey County and Anoka County.

Info About Vehicle Forfeiture and Plate Impoundment

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Vehicle Impoundment after a DWI

According to Minnesota Statute 169A.63, a person’s vehicle can be seized if it was used to commit certain criminal acts, which includes first-degree DWI offenses and second-degree DWI offenses.  A vehicle also could be seized if a person loses his or her driving privileges because of a DWI offense.

For instance, if a person refuses to submit to a chemical test of his or her blood, breath or urine on a second DWI offense, he or she could face having the vehicle forfeited. This would apply even though the offense would be considered a third-degree DWI offense.

If the arresting agency determines the vehicle is subject to seizure and forfeiture according to state law, it can seize the vehicle immediately following an arrest and keep possession of it while any legal proceedings are pending.

When law enforcement seizes a vehicle, anyone who has ownership or security interest in the vehicle is notified of the seizure and the intent to forfeit the vehicle within 60 days, according to Minnesota law. The notice must be in writing and it must contain:

  • A description of the vehicle seized;
  • Date of the seizure; and
  • Notice of the right to obtain judicial review of the forfeiture and the procedure to do so.

Other vehicles owned by the offender are not subject to forfeiture. According to the law, a motor vehicle is subject to forfeiture only if its owner knew or should have known of the unlawful or intended use of the vehicle. This is a way to aid owners who are not the offenders.

According to Minnesota Statute 169A.63, information explaining the consequences of the vehicle forfeiture also must be included in the notice. Owners must be aware they will lose the vehicle and the right to be heard in court if you do not file a lawsuit and serve the prosecuting authority within 60 days.

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Fighting the Vehicle Impoundment

When a driver has his or her vehicle seized, it is important to act quickly against the administrative penalty. A vehicle owner has 60 days from receiving the notice of the seizure to file for a judicial determination of the forfeiture. This would allow the vehicle owner the chance to fight to keep the vehicle.

Owners may file a lawsuit in conciliation court if the property is worth $15,000 or less. Otherwise, they would be required to file in district court. According to state law, there are some instances in which owners may not have to pay a filing fee if they are unable to afford it. They also would not have to pay the conciliation court fee if the property is worth less than $500.

A judicial determination should be held at the earlier date and should not be any later than 180 days following the filing for the hearing. Additionally, if criminal charges are pending, the hearing should not be held until the conclusion.

If the forfeiture is based on the commission of a designated offense, such as a DWI, and the person charged with the offense is not convicted, the court shall order the property returned to the person legally entitled to it, according to state law. If a vehicle is returned to a person, the filing fees could be reimbursed.

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How Does Plate Impoundment Work?

A person could face having his or her license plate impounded if charged with one of several DWI offenses, called “plate impoundment violations.” According to Minnesota Statute 169A.60, a plate impoundment violation is:

  • DWI within 10 years of a qualified prior impaired driving violation by that person
  • DWI with an alcohol concentration of 0.20 or more
  • DWI with a child younger than 16 years old in the vehicle
  • DWI with a canceled license

Plate impoundment is an administrative penalty that would apply the vehicle used in the commission of the violation as well as any other vehicle owned, registered to or leased to the person charged with the offense. This could apply even if there is shared ownership of a vehicle.

Plate impoundment can be effective immediately at the time of arrest. The officer seizes  the plates. He or she then would issue a temporary vehicle permit which would be valid for seven days. If the vehicle is registered to another person, the permit could be valid for 45 days.

License impoundment lasts a minimum of one year. During this year, the driver may not get behind the wheel in any vehicle unless it has coded plates and he or she has a valid license. The violator also may face other restrictions when selling or acquiring a vehicle during the impoundment period.

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Whiskey Plates in Minnesota

A driver accused of a DWI offense could apply for a limited driver’s license. If approved, he or she also could apply for and receive temporary license plates.  These plates, according to Minnesota Statute 169A.20, must have a special series of numbers or letters so as to be readily identified by traffic law enforcement officers.

These plates are known as “Whiskey Plates.” They would allow drivers to continue to use the vehicle, including the offender if he or she has a temporary license. These plates often are issued in the following scenarios:

  • The violator has a qualified licensed driver;
  • The violator or registered owner has a limited license;
  • The registered owner is not the violator and the registered owner has a valid license;
  • A member of the registered owner’s household has a valid driver’s license; and
  • The violator has been reissued a valid driver’s license.

 If a vehicle has Whiskey plates, police officers have the right to stop the vehicle at any time. This can be done for no reason other than to see if the vehicle is being operated lawfully under a valid driver’s license, according to Minnesota Statute 168.0422.

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Challenging the License Plate Impoundment Post DWI Arrest

Similar to the driver’s license sanction, a person faced with license plate impoundment may appeal this sanction either administratively or judicially through the court. At any time during the impoundment, a violator or a registered owner could request an administrative review. The commissioner would report his or her results of the review within 15 days of the request.

A person also could file for a judicial review, which would include a hearing about the impoundment. This must be requested within 30 days of the impoundment. Failure to act would essentially mean a person waived his or her right to protest it.

The scope of the hearing would be limited to:

  • If the impoundment is based on a plate impoundment violation;
  • Whether the police officer had probable cause to believe the violator committed the violation; and
  • Whether the evidence demonstrates the plate impoundment violation occurred.

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James Blumberg Law – A DWI Administrative Penalty Defense Lawyer

Keeping your vehicle and your driving privileges are important after a DWI arrest. Contact vehicle seizure and plate impoundment attorney James Blumberg to begin combating these administrative penalties. James Blumberg Law represents clients throughout the Twin Cities region. Call (952) 431-7758 to schedule a free consultation today.