Vehicle forfeiture can be the consequence of any alleged criminal act when behind the wheel of a car. A vehicle can be forfeited due to DWI, driving under the influence of drugs, or using a vehicle as a getaway car in the commission of a robbery. The list goes on and on, but vehicle forfeiture doesn’t mean you are going to lose your vehicle as long as you consult with your attorney and take action soon after the forfeiture has occurred. You only have a certain amount of time to act.

As for when a vehicle is forfeited, it depends on how many previous offenses there has been within the past ten years and/or if any aggravating factors were present at the time of the arrest, such as having a blood alcohol content of .20 or above or having a minor in the car.

Anyone who has been arrested for DWI in Hennepin County knows that the officers take it very seriously and they are aggressive in their approach to the situation. They are out to prove that a DWI has occurred and sometimes the matter is up to perception of the officer, which is why DWIs are so open to being successfully challenged.

As for the forfeiture itself, the sheriff’s department has the authority to take the vehicle so it can be sold after the recovery time has passed. The vehicle may be forfeited in the following cases:

  • The DWI is the third alleged offense within the preceding ten years and/or the driver has refused to take field sobriety tests
  • The alleged offense is the second within the preceding ten years and there was a minor in the vehicle under the age of 16 or the blood alcohol content was .20 or above.
  • The alleged offense was the fourth within the preceding ten years and the driver is now charged with a felony DWI.
  • The driver refuses field sobriety testing or they are charged with DWI after their license has already been cancelled for being a danger to public safety.
  • The driver is charged for refusing field sobriety testing or DWI while their license is under a B-Card restriction, which is a restriction against the driver consuming any amount of alcohol.

Once the vehicle is forfeited, the owner receives a Notice of Seizure and a notice of Intent to Forfeit. These notices have to be issued within 30 days of the vehicle being forfeited. If the owner takes no action within that 30 day period, then the sheriff’s department can sell it and obtain the cash for it.

With that said, you may be wondering how you can recover the vehicle. This process is the same no matter what Minnesota county forfeited your vehicle. It is important to note that not every challenge to forfeiture succeeds, as there are certain circumstances that must exist. One defense that is used is that the owner did not know nor had reason to know that their vehicle was being used in a criminal manner. This defense is not effective if the owner was the passenger. Your attorney will look at the matter and will determine which defense is the best one to use so that you can get your vehicle back.