DWI Forfeitures: Minnesota Supreme Court Gets Tough on Policing for Profit

Posted On September 26, 2012 by Charles Ramsay

While we spend most of our time in the various district courts, fighting for our clients, we also spend a fair amount of time litigating appeals. Today the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Patino v. One 2007 Chevy, a case where we filed an amici curiae brief on behalf of both the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice and the Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

In the Patino decision, the Supreme Court got it exactly right and ruled in favor of Patino (you can read up on the facts of the case in our previous blog post). In a nutshell, the Court concluded that the State cannot forfeit a driver's vehicle for DWI unless they are actually convicted of that DWI. The State tried to argue that it could keep these vehicles even without a conviction - an argument that was not supported by the language of Minnesota's DWI forfeiture law, and an argument that was rejected by the Court.

Today's case was a big step towards fixing some of the unjust consequences of our DWI forfeiture laws, and big credit needs to go out to our own Dan Koewler, who wrote the amicus brief, and to Kirk M. Anderson, who represented Laura Patino.

You can read the whole decision here.