Can the Police Seize Your Car During a DUI Arrest?

During a DUI arrest, a number of things are bound to happen. The extent is going to be determined by the severity of the case, the entities involved, the laws broken, and much more. 

One such occurrence is whether or not the police have the right to seize your vehicle during a DUI arrest. Simply put, they do, provided that certain qualifications are met.

Here we will cover all of the aspects of seizure and forfeiture of a vehicle by the police and what you can do about it. 

In What Occurrences Can the Police Seize Your Vehicle?

Being a resident of Illinois, you are subject to its law. The local law extends the right for seizure and forfeiture of vehicles in offenses of certain nature, such as:

  1. A felony DUI arrest
  2. Hit & Run Involving Death or Personal Injury
  3. Reckless Homicide
  4. Driving While Revoked
  5. Aggravated Eluding & Fleeing
  6. Driving While Suspended

However, there are several other criminal not necessarily traffic-related violations that might prove to be a basis for seizure and forfeiture. It’s also worth mentioning that seizure and forfeiture of your vehicle is only one part of the arrest, as there are other consequences that will be bestowed upon you. 

For instance, for some people, the loss of license means a lot more than temporary restriction for usage of their vehicle. Loss of license can mean job loss and loss of freedom. Also, being a single parent who drives their kids to school, loss of license can make things a little bit more tedious if there is no other mode of transportation.

What is the Procedure Following the Seizure/Forfeiture in a DUI Arrest?

In general, a short while after your vehicle has been seized, within a week’s time, it should be transferred into the custody of the State Police for the state of Illinois. In addition to this, the state’s county attorney and the office of Secretary of State will be notified with this seizure by the law enforcement agency within a period of 28 days.

When this notice is received, the attorney will have two weeks to seek preliminary counsel from the circuit court that is held to find probable cause that the vehicle is subject to seizure. All of the interest holders, such as lienholders, owners, and others must be given adequate notice of the proceedings. If the attorney determines that probable cause is not present, the vehicle must be returned with a week.

If probable cause has been found, within 28 days, the owner can seek temporary release while the forfeiture proceedings are in the process of pending, which is based upon hardship caused by the loss of the vehicle. However, if the course chooses to release the vehicle, and then orders forfeiture, the vehicle should be returned to the law enforcement within a week. The court might require the owner to post a security to guarantee the return of the automobile if has been ordered for forfeiture.

The attorney must also file a Complaint About Forfeiture in the circuit court within 28 days of receiving the notice of seizure. After this, the complaint is to be served to all of the parties listed on the title. These parties will have 45 days to file a response, and the trial will be held within 60 days of the answer being filed. 

The case is then settled by hearing in court. During this proceeding, the state has to establish that the vehicle was used in the performance of crime by the owner of the title. Only then is the DUI punishment in Illinois determined.

Potential Defenses in Regard to Complaint for Seizure & Forfeiture

In premise, these hearings can be quite difficult to serve defense against. There are several potential defenses that can be executed in response to a complaint about seizure and forfeiture

First, if the spouse of the owner has the ability to demonstrate that the automobile is the only mode of transportation for the family, and that loss would create hardship.

Second, that the vehicle was not used in the performance of the crime. For instance, in the case of a DUI, the owner has not committed the offense.

Third, a co-owner of the vehicle is innocent, meaning they had no knowledge or involvement of the culpable owner’s activities pertinent to the crime. 

Fourth, the value of the vehicle is disproportionate to the severity of the offense that has been committed, thus violates the prohibition against excessive fines that are protected by the federal constitution of the United States.

Before the local government can obtain forfeiture, they have to pay the lienholders the monetary value proposed by the court. If the value of the automobile is so low in consideration of the loan, the state might choose to forgo on forfeiture and return it to the owner, or to the lender who can return it to the owner.

Your License Reinstated

Now that you know about the unfortunate faculty of the DUI arrest known as seizure and forfeiture of the vehicle, you know that you can find a defense against this type of legal issue.

In some cases, it’s best for things take their toll, but under the supervision of a specialized and experienced attorney. The most important thing to do in a DUI arrest is to reinstate your license, which is extremely difficult to do without the help of a lawyer. 

If you’re interested in getting back on the road without restriction, get in touch with us and we will happily accommodate your needs.

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