When Does a Vehicle Confiscation for DUI Occur?
Losing the right to drive is something that is often seen in DUI cases. In some places, however, it may even go beyond this and a driver may actually have their car taken away and impounded. Under some circumstances this may be permanent. In other situations, it may only be temporary and it is possible to have the car returned after the fines and fees are paid.
Ignition Interlock Devices
At the present time, all states currently have some laws on the books involving the use of ignition interlock devices. These devices will prevent the car from being started after the driver performs a breathalyzer test, if there is alcohol content present.
Fifteen states will use them on first-time offenders, making such devices mandatory for all DUI convictions. Some states only make them mandatory in cases where there is a BAC level of .15 or higher. Although all states make use of the devices, some states only use them on a discretionary basis.
A number of states will confiscate a vehicle, or impound it when a DUI has been involved. Altogether, 22 states will confiscate vehicles. Even more will immobilize them, or some other option, such as revoking the license plate, giving them special plates (Minnesota), or demanding continuous alcohol monitoring (Nebraska). The state of Washington has a mandatory tow and a 12-hour impound. The state of Florida may either impound the vehicle for penalty or it may demand vehicle forfeiture.
It is also possible to have your vehicle seized even if you were not the one charged with a DUI. When someone else drives your car and they are arrested for a DUI, it is also possible to lose your car that way. You may also lose the car if it was involved in some kind of crime, such as in the case of felony drug possession, or from fleeing a police officer.
A lawyer can help you get it back in some cases, but it will depend on the circumstances. The lawyer will ask you whether or not the car was stolen, or if it was just borrowed without permission. You may also be asked if you knew that the driver had previous convictions of DUI (or DWI), or if they were driving on a suspended driver’s license.
Trends for Vehicle Confiscation
Since all states now make use of ignition interlock devices in some way, there has been a decrease in the number of vehicle confiscations. The devices have been proven to work well in deterring someone from drinking and driving, so there remains little need for confiscation – although a number of states will still do it.
Getting Your Car Back After Vehicle Confiscation
If you have had your car confiscated due to a DUI or some other situation, you will need the help of a lawyer to get it back. This will be necessary even if you were not the one with a DUI, but lost your vehicle because of someone else’s carelessness.
An experienced DUI lawyer knows the laws involved and can help you get your vehicle back faster. It will even be trickier in the state of New York, which has been notorious for confiscating cars and then selling them. Knowledge of their procedures is very important, and a good lawyer will be able to help you get your car back – in many situations. You will want to contact a lawyer before making any attempts to get it back, because there are actions you might take that may only complicate the process and speedy return of your vehicle.