One of the things you must inform an Asheville DUI lawyer during the first appointment is whether your vehicle and other property and money were seized by the police at the time of your arrest. Your attorney will guide you in the process of getting them back at the end of the process if it is possible.
Here is what you need to know about getting back a seized car and other property after a DUI. Reach out to us today if you’re facing a DUI charge in Asheville.
Situations When Your Car Will Be Impounded
North Carolina Statutes 20-28.3 specify three clear situations when a vehicle can be impounded in an impaired driving case:
- You were driving on a revoked license for a prior impaired driving offense at the moment of the DUI violation
- You were driving without a valid license
- You were driving uninsured.
Initially, the vehicle will be towed to a local storage facility. After a few days, it could be transferred to a state-wide storage facility. You will have to pay the towing and storage fee, even if it is determined that the seizure of your car was unjustified.
You Will Surrender Personal Assets When You Are Booked
Once you arrive at the arresting facility for booking, you will have to surrender personal effects, such as:
- Mobile phone
- Wallet with money
You must receive a voucher listing all the items that were seized. You will use this document to recover your money and other assets when your case is concluded.
If the voucher is incomplete, do not sign it; otherwise, you may forfeit your right. If you signed an incomplete property voucher by mistake, make sure to tell your attorney about this issue.
In Some Situations, Your Car Will Be Sold
An experienced Asheville DUI attorney will never guarantee that you will be able to recover your car. In some cases, the court will order your car to be forfeited to the local school board, as part of your sentence. This institution would be entitled to sell it and keep the proceeds.
Also, there are cases when the school board can sell your car even without a court order:
- If the towing and storage fees represent 85% of the value of your vehicle
- If the car was in storage for more than 90 days and its residual value is less than $1,500
- If you consent to the sale.
You Can Recover Personal Property Even from a Forfeited Vehicle
If you are not allowed to get back your car, you are still entitled to recover any personal property inside it before it is sold. In order to do so, you must prove that you are the vehicle owner.
Also, the only items you may recover are those not attached to the car. For instance, you may recover a GPS system you were keeping in the glove compartment, but not the car navigation or entertainment system embedded in the dashboard.
How Can You Get Your Car Back?
You can file a petition for the return of your car before the DUI case is resolved, as this can take several months. In order to be eligible for the release of the car, you must prove that:
- Your license was not revoked
- You are properly insured according to North Carolina rules.
Within 10 days (or as quickly as it is feasible based on the caseload), a hearing will be scheduled. The notice for the hearing will be sent to:
- The prosecutor handling your DUI case
- The school board.
The court will prioritize hearings for vehicles that have already been forfeited.
Recovering a Seized Car Driven By Someone Else
If you lend your car to a friend or family member and it gets impounded in a DUI case, you will have to file an Innocent Owner Petition to get it back. However, you will need to prove one of the following:
- You did not know and had no reason to know that the person driving your car was uninsured or did not have a valid license
- If you knew that the driver had a revoked license and/or was uninsured, you did not authorize them to drive the car and filed a police report for unauthorized use
- Your car was stolen and you reported the theft to the police
- You run a car leasing or rental business and you did not know that the driver’s license was revoked or the driver was not authorized to drive the car under the agreement.
Consult With an Experienced Asheville DUI Lawyer If Your Car Was Seized!
Losing your car together with your driving privileges is extremely hard on anyone. You may not be able to get approved for a loan to get a replacement with a DUI case pending.
You should talk to a skilled Asheville DUI lawyer as soon as possible. We will look into the reasons that got your car impounded, and find any valid defense to have it returned to you.
We offer each new client a free case review, so call us today at 828-759-5556!