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Vehicle Seizure as a Result of DWI Charges

If you or someone you know has been charged with drinking while impaired (DWI) in Weddington, North Carolina it is vital to know that not only do you lose your driver’s license, but you can also lose your vehicle. This is because under North Carolina law, the state has the authority to seize, impound, and forfeit the vehicle of any person who is charged with driving while impaired if the driver had a revoked license or was driving without a license at the time of the DWI charge. After the vehicle forfeiture, the car owner does not receive payment for the vehicle’s sale nor any insurance reimbursements. In addition, state law mandates that the person whose vehicle is towed is also responsible for his or her vehicle’s storage and towing expenses.

How a Criminal Defense Attorney can Help

In addition to providing reputable DWI legal representation, an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney can represent you in a separate legal hearing for a decision regarding the vehicle forfeiture. At the forfeiture hearing, a skilled criminal defense attorney will fight hard to have your vehicle returned to your possession as soon as possible. No matter what your situation, it is critical that anyone whose vehicle is seized in Weddington, North Carolina as a result of a DWI reach out to an attorney for helping getting his or her vehicle back.

Vehicle Seizure Explained

It is important to know that North Carolina law mandates that law enforcement officers seize a vehicle whenever a driver is charged with a DWI and, at the time of the charge, he or she has a revoked license for a prior DWI or has no license and is uninsured. Once the vehicle is seized, it will first be towed to a local North Carolina impound yard. After a few days of the vehicle being in the impound, the vehicle will be transferred to Linden, North Carolina - the statewide impound yard. Even if you were not at fault and your vehicle is seized and forfeited, you are still responsible for paying the towing and storage fees in full before your vehicle will be released to you.

After the vehicle has been towed, there are several things that can happen to it. The goal, of course, is to have the vehicle released back to the owner’s custody. There is a strong possibility, however, that the vehicle will be forfeited to the local North Carolina school board. Thereafter, the vehicle will be sold - and may even be sold without a court order.

Indeed, North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) has the authority to sell forfeited vehicles if the owner consents to the sale; towing and storage fees have reached 85% of the vehicles value; or the car has been stored for 90 days and the vehicle is worth less than $1,500.

Defeating a Vehicle Seizure

Even if someone else was driving your vehicle, North Carolina law still allows for it to be subject to seizure and forfeiture. That being said, in order to avoid responsibility and to be able to have your vehicle released to you, you must establish one of the following under state law:

  • You did not know, and had no reason to know, that the driver of your vehicle was violating any North Carolina law;
  • The driver who took your vehicle did so without your consent and you reported this unauthorized use to the appropriate authorities;
  • The driver stole your vehicle and you reported the theft to the proper authorities;
  • You operate a vehicle rental business and the driver was not a designated operator on the rental contract;
  • You operate a vehicle leasing business and did not know the driver’s license was revoked at the time you entered into the lease agreement.

Moreover, a vehicle owner may be able to post a bond equal to the vehicle’s value in order to obtain possession of it. That being said, posting the bond will only allow a temporary use until the case is further resolved. In order to get possession of your vehicle again if you were driving at the time the seizure occurred, you must prove - among other things - that your driver’s license was not revoked at the time of the DWI offense and that you had valid insurance coverage.

Criminal Defense Help in Weddington

If you or someone you know has been charged with a North Carolina DWI in Weddington and your vehicle has been seized, contact the law firm of Arnold & Smith, PLLC today. Our skilled legal team will begin developing a powerful case to prevent the government from taking and selling what is yours. Contact us today.