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I thought a person was "INNOCENT TILL PROVEN QUILTY" ? How can they seize a vehicle if a person was not caught driving it?

Hawley, MN |

The Notice of Seizure & Intent to Forfeit Vehicle claimed it was seized because of Impaired Driving. As I see it "I" have to prove that I was NOT driving, which I was NOT. I thought THEY had to prove that I was? If someone got the vehicle stuck & walked for help & another person who had been drinking went behind the driver's wheel and started the vehicle to warm up, How can they seize the other person's vehicle? I JUST DO NOT UNDERSTAND MN. LAWS!

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Attorney answers 4


Vehicle forfeitures are civil administrative penalties separate from your criminal case. You do not necessarily have the same rights in a civil forfeiture as you do in your DWI. If the vehicle that was driven was owned by someone else you may have what is called an "innocent owner" defense.

If you do not already have an attorney, you need to get one. There are time limits within which you have to challenge the forfeiture of the vehicle, if you don't, the court loses jurisdiction and the police will forfeit the car regardless of whether you have a defense.

You can ca,, me at 612-223-7286 to further discuss your case.


I understand and can appreciate your confusion. The forfeiture statute is civil in nature..not criminal. Ultimately, the state will have to establish that the vehicle is subject to forfeiture. However, you must read the notice of intent to seize and forfeit very carefully. You only have a limited amount of time to preserve your challenge to the forfeiture. You may have the "innocent owner" defense to assert. I would strongly encourage you to contact an experience criminal defense attorney to help you understand what is a very complicated procedure. Good luck.


You are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a criminal court. The forfeiture of your vehicle, however, is a civil penalty and is separate from the criminal court. It is a confusing process, but like my colleagues have mentioned, you may have a possible defense. I wish you the best of luck.


Everything my colleagues said is correct: you need to get an atty. ASAP to challenge the forfeiture of the vehicle.
It is unjust , as you said, but it is the law, so we are stuck w/it. More specifically, and more helpfully, I have gotten many vehicles back for people facing Forfeitures, DWI or otherwise. I have won cases for criminal defendants and also for innocent owners. I have won forfeiture cases in many counties across the State. I offer a free initial consult, so feel free to call or email me.

This is not legal advice. This site is only to be used for general information, not advice on what to do with your specific case.

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