Topic:
DRUNK DRIVING; FORFEITURE; MOTOR VEHICLES;
Location:
DRUNK DRIVING;

OLR Research Report


March 15, 2002

 

2002-R-0286

STATES WITH MANDATORY FORFEITURE OF VEHICLES FOR DWI OFFENSES

 

By: Kristina D. Arsenault, Research Fellow

You asked if any states have mandatory forfeiture laws for DWI offenses.

SUMMARY

Nine states have mandatory forfeiture laws for DWI offenses: Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The conditions for forfeiture differ but most forfeiture is based upon a third or subsequent DWI violations. Eight of the nine states sell the vehicle, however, four of the nine states provide exemptions for financial hardship or jointly owned vehicles. Table 1 shows the basis for forfeiture for each state, whether the vehicle is sold and how the state uses the proceeds if the vehicle is sold.

TABLE 1: STATES WITH MANDATORY FORFEITURE LAWS

STATE

BASIS FOR FORFEITURE

IS VEHICLE SOLD?

WHERE PROCEEDS GO

Arizona

Vehicle used and owned in:

1. 3rd or subsequent DWI

2. DWI while transporting child under age five

3. DWI while license is still suspended for prior DWI

No. Vehicle is kept for 30 days and returned to the owner.

N/A

Georgia

4th DWI offense occurring while person is in habitual offender status (license revoked) based on 3rd prior DWI convictions

In lieu of forfeiture and because of financial hardship on family, court may order vehicle's title transferred to another family member who needs vehicle for employment or family needs.

Yes

State general treasury of the state or any other government unit whose law enforcement agency originally seized the motor vehicle

Louisiana

Vehicle owned and used in a 3rd or subsequent DWI offense

Yes--at an auction

Court costs, towing and storage costs are paid first and the remainder of the money goes to the Council on Automobile Insurance Rates and Enforcement for use in studying other ways to reduce drunk driving and insurance rates.

Maine

For DWI offense committed while under license suspension or

revocation for a previous DWI offense (only applies if vehicle is owned solely by offender. Jointly-owned vehicles are not subject to forfeiture).

Yes

To the state

Montana

3rd or subsequent DWI or per se violation within five years

Yes--at an auction

General fund of the arresting agency

North Carolina

1. Vehicle's driver commits DWI offense while under suspension for another DWI offense (DWI, test refusal, per se, or other alcohol related suspension)

2. Driver commits habitual impaired driving offense (4th DWI conviction within seven years)

Lien holders and certain innocent parties who have ownership interest may have vehicle released to them.

Yes--at an auction

North Carolina has a state contract with a company that handles all the towing of cars that are impounded. An auction is held when enough cars have been collected around the state.

School Board of the county where the vehicle was seized

Ohio

Vehicle used in 3rd or subsequent DWI offense

Non-offender owner may avoid forfeiture sanction on showing by preponderance of evidence that he neither knew nor should have know offense was or would be committed. If vehicle not forfeited and registration has been either assigned or transferred, defendant may be required to pay fine up to the vehicle's value.

Yes

Storage costs are paid first and then lien holder.

South Carolina

3rd or subsequent DWI offense within 10 years, if vehicle is either (1) owned and operated by offender or (2) operated by offender who lives in the household as registered owner

If the vehicle's fair market value is over $500, the vehicle is sold at a public auction; if its fair market value is less than $500, it must be sold as scrap to the highest bidder after first receiving at least two bids.

The costs of the hearing, auction, and reasonable towing and storage charges that resulted from placing the vehicle in custody are paid first. The remaining proceeds from the sale are deposited in the general fund of the county or municipality.

Tennessee

Vehicle used in 2nd or subsequent DWI offense. One prior offense must have occurred after 1/1/97 and a second within five years after the first

Yes--at an auction

Agency responsible for the confiscation

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