The short answer is yes. If your arrest satisfies specific criteria under the Governor’s DWI Initiative, law officers may seize your car during a Driving While Impaired (DWI) stop in North Carolina.
Because a DWI stop might result in the seizure of your vehicle, it is vital to contact a skilled DWI defense attorney in North Carolina as quickly as possible. When a car is at risk of being seized and forfeited after a DWI arrest, time is of the essence.
During a DWI Stop, When Can the Police Seize Your Vehicle?
If you are driving with an invalid driver’s license and/or an invalid, expired, or non-existent insurance policy at the time of the DWI stop, law enforcement may take your car under N.C.G.S. 20-28.3.
Additionally, if you are operating a motor vehicle with a license revoked due to a prior impaired driving revocation, your car may be seized during a DWI check. Even if the driver is not registered as the vehicle owner, law enforcement will seize it.
The vehicle will be transported to a local towing storage facility following the seizure.
During a DWI Stop, a Vehicle Maybe Confiscated
Law enforcement officers are empowered to take motor vehicles from repeat DWI offenders under the Governor’s DWI Initiative. Your car may be taken if you are accused of driving while intoxicated and are:
- Driving while your license is revoked owing to a prior DWI offense
- Driving when your license is invalid or an auto insurance liability policy does not protect you
In North Carolina, law police can seize your vehicle at the moment of the DWI arrest, not after the case has gone to trial. Your car will most likely be seized if you are convicted of driving while intoxicated and simultaneously driving with a revoked license from a previous impaired driving violation.
Authorities can either keep your vehicle for their use or sell it and keep the earnings if this happens. If you were not the driver who was convicted of DWI in North Carolina, you might be able to get your vehicle back.
What About Towing and Storage Fees for Vehicle Seizure?
Even if the driver is not the car owner, the law enforcement officer must confiscate it. Following the seizure of the car, the police will arrange for it to be towed to a nearby towing storage facility. Eastway Wrecker, Tarheel Specialties, and Martin Edwards & Associates are the three most popular towing businesses in North Carolina. As soon as the vehicle arrives at the storage facility, it begins incurring daily storage fees.
These expenses are mandated by law and cannot be avoided through a court order.
What Is “Vehicle Forfeiture?”
When a car is forfeited, the state is given the right to keep and/or sell the vehicle. Furthermore, without a court order, the state may lose the car before the criminal case is resolved. After ninety (90) days from seizure, if the vehicle’s value is less than $1500.00, the state may sell it. If the outstanding towing and storage expenses surpass 85 percent of the vehicle’s fair market value, they may sell it at any time. After towing and storage charges, the revenues from these sales go to local schools.
What Is “Innocent Owner Petition for Vehicle Seizure?”
What if you owned the car but didn’t drive it? You might be able to reclaim your vehicle through a process known as an Innocent Owner Petition. To be considered an innocent owner, you must fall into one of the five categories below:
- You were unaware and had no cause to be aware that the actual driver’s license had been revoked.
- You were unaware and had no cause to be aware that the motorist lacked sufficient insurance and licensure.
- You were well aware that the genuine driver’s license had been revoked, you were aware that the motorist lacked the required liability insurance and you did not give the driver authorization to operate the vehicle and reported it to the police for unlawful usage.
- The car was reported stolen by you (the actual driver stole the vehicle from you and committed the offense).
Your company hires automobiles, and either:
- The driver was an authorized user, but you were unaware of the driver’s license revocation, or the driver was an approved user, but you were unaware of the revocation. Alternatively, the driver was not named on the rental agreement as an authorized driver.
- Your company leased automobiles, and you were the legal owner of the vehicle. However, you were unaware that the driver’s license had been revoked at the time of the lease.
You must also submit form CR-330 to the clerk’s office in addition to establishing that you were an innocent owner. Following your Innocent Owner Petition filing, the clerk will set up a hearing to evaluate your petition.
It is still possible to get the vehicle released if you were the owner and the person charged with impaired driving (i.e., avoid forfeiture). You would have to show documentation that your license was not revoked for a previous impaired driving offense at the time of seizure.
Contact Us Today
Our experts can assist you whether you are an innocent owner or a suspected intoxicated driver. Our DWI attorneys have successfully defended both innocent owners and intoxicated drivers. The procedure of obtaining a seized vehicle release is complicated, but our expert team is here to help. For a free D.U.I. consultation, contact us today.