Forfeiture: How To Solve The State's Budget Crisis By Ignoring the Constitution, pt. 1 of 2

Posted On July 09, 2010 by Daniel Koewler

Today is the first blog in a two-part series regarding Minnesota's forfeiture laws. As any polished attorney knows, most DWI arrests included numerous "collateral| punishments. You will lose your license; you may become ineligible for car insurance; you may even lose your job. However, what few people know is that it's also likely that the State is going to seize your car and sell it for profit.

These |vehicle forfeitures| aren't just reserved for the five-time repeat offenders that make the news. In fact, even a first time DWI arrest can result in vehicle forfeiture . . .

Example: you and your significant other are driving to the babysitter's after going out for dinner with friends. You had two glasses of wine with your meal, but don't feel the slightest bit tipsy. You pick up your 8 year old child, and head for home. However, before you get there, the police pull you over for |weaving within your own lane.|

The officer asks if you had anything to drink, and you honestly answer |yes.| (It's not a crime to drink and then drive in Minnesota - it's only a crime to be impaired). You are told to step out of your car and perform some field sobriety tests. You do fine, but the officer thinks otherwise, and arrests you for DWI - in front of your family.

You get taken down to the police station and told that you need to submit to a breath test on the Intoxilyzer 5000. You're nervous, but at the same time anxious to pass the test and rejoin your family. However, no matter how hard you blow, that Intoxilyzer won't |accept| your sample. The officer is yelling in your ear to |blow harder| but no matter what you do, the machine keeps calling your sample |deficient.| After four minutes, the officer tells you that he's going to charge you with |refusal to test.|

You can cry, plead and beg at this point, but the fact is that you are going to be charged with a crime - and not just any old crime - an enhanced crime. Because you had someone under the age of 16 inside your vehicle, and because you |refused| to test, you are going to be charged with a gross misdemeanor, 2nd degree DWI.

And woe to someone who has even one DWI conviction already on their record. With one conviction on your record, it's very easy for a DWI arrest to turn into a situation where the State is going to sell your car for profit.

Now, wait. The police officer that chose to arrest you can take your car, immediately, and can then sell that car for profit before you even get to complain to a judge? That's right . . . although if you have a good attorney in your corner, you can still get your car back.

Be sure to check back Monday for an explanation of what you can do to protect your rights to your vehicle.

Please read part 2 of the blog here.