Many people understand the underlying dangers of driving under the influence, yet for some reason, around 1.4 million DUI arrests still occur yearly. Only about a third of these arrests occur to those who have been previously convicted, so the initial consequences are obviously enough to dissuade many individuals from ever drinking and driving again. Unfortunately, some states actually allow for the forfeiture of vehicles due to DUI, and this repercussion will not easily be forgotten.
1. They Can Keep It
Vehicle forfeiture isn’t just a typical tow job where an individual can go pick up their car right when they get out of jail; many states will actually take possession of a person’s car after they’re arrested for DUI and auction it off. In some states, this consequence only occurs after a person gets several DUIs, but this isn’t the case in every state.
Authorities often have the right to seize property that was used during the commission of a crime. Since a vehicle is obviously necessary to commit the crime of DUI, many states have used this logic to justify the legal taking of a citizen’s vehicle. So in essence, police can take possession of a $30,000 car for a crime that may only result in a $1,000 fine. You can find out more information online by visiting sites such as www.devorelawoffice.com.
2. Innocent Owners Defense
There are cases when an individual may have their vehicle forfeited without even committing a crime. If a person allows a friend or family member to borrow their vehicle, for instance, that vehicle may be taken if the loved one gets a DUI. Luckily, the Supreme Court has ensured that this doesn’t happen to innocent victims.
The “innocent owners defense” allows a person to get their vehicle back after someone else has it taken due to a DUI. The only valid defenses, however, are that the vehicle was taken without the owner’s knowledge or that the owner was unaware that the individual would use the vehicle to drive under the influence.
3. The Contestable Forfeiture
Luckily, a vehicle forfeiture is contestable, and this is the case even if the “innocent owner defense” isn’t valid. In some cases, the vehicle will only be held onto until the conclusion of the criminal trial, and at this point, a driver can simply make a demand for their vehicle. Unfortunately, even in areas that practice this procedure, the state can still sue.
In many cases, it’s advisable to get an attorney. If an individual is found “not guilty” or charges are dropped in a DUI case, they’ll have a much better chance of getting their vehicle back; and having a legal expert at one’s side greatly increases the likelihood of this happening.
4. Contesting Can Be Difficult
Unfortunately, contesting a car forfeiture can prove to be quite difficult, and this is especially the case if it’s not an innocent owner trying to get their vehicle back. This is due to the civil, as opposed to criminal, nature of vehicle forfeiture laws. Even if charges have to be dropped in a DUI criminal case based on a technicality, the state will have a much lower evidentiary burden in the civil matter. This is another reason why having an attorney is so essential.
Vehicle forfeiture is a big issue when it comes to a person’s property rights. This is so much the case that several courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have regulated this action. It would still be nonsensical, however, for a person to not seek out legal help in these instances. Prosecutors will have a much easier time proving a valid forfeiture than they had proving a DUI, so without competent legal assistance, a person’s chances of success aren’t that promising.
After researching online, at such sites as www.devorelawoffice.com, Nadine Swayne offers this article to help those fighting a vehicle forfeiture case. Although the average person does not know all DUI laws, when facing these charges, information is always the key.