Starting July 1, 2019, a new Minnesota DWI vehicle forfeiture law will add a whole new dimension to the forfeiture landscape. The new law will allow a driver to get their car back if they install ignition interlock on the vehicle. This can change the forfeiture game substantially. Before this new law, anyone trying to get their vehicle back subject to a DWI forfeiture, would either have to negotiate a return of the vehicle with the prosecutor or challenge the taking in court. In the jurisdictions where prosecutors vehemently oppose returning the vehicle, litigating the matter in court took time, money, and energy. The result could end up wasting all three of those commodities.
Now, this new law allows drivers to get their vehicles back quicker. And importantly, it takes the risk out of losing the eventual court hearing. If the driver becomes a participant in Minnesota’s ignition interlock program, the forfeiture proceeding will be stayed and the vehicle will be returned. If the driver later violates this program, then the forfeiture action can proceed in court. If the driver successfully completes the program, then the forfeiture action is dismissed.
There are many contingencies tangled into this new law. One web is that prosecutors may require that a bond or security be posted equal to the retail value of the vehicle before the driver can start using it with ignition interlock. The prosecution may also require that reasonable costs for towing, seizure, and storage be paid prior to releasing the vehicle. Some people may not want, or have the ability, to pay bond or security and reasonable costs. Depending on the value of the vehicle, some people may decide to let the car go. But for many, they lost the only vehicle they owned. They often face the dilemma of only being able to drive if they get ignition interlock installed in their vehicle; and now, they have the option to not only get their car back, but their driver’s licenses to boot.
Robert H. Ambrose is a criminal defense attorney and DWI lawyer in Minnesota. Super Lawyers named him a Rising Star for the past four years; The National Trial Lawyer’s Organization named him a Top 40 Under 40 Trial Lawyer the past six years. He is a member of the National College of DUI Defense; and an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and Mitchell Hamline School of Law. DWI Attorney Woodbury; DWI Vehicle Forfeiture Lawyer Minnesota; and Minnesota DWI Attorney.