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Vehicle Seizure

Most people understand that there can be some serious consequences associated with driving while impaired. Getting charged with a DWI in Mooresville, NC can lead to all kinds of bad things, including the loss of your driver's license, a blemish on your criminal record and a spike in insurance rates. Something many people may not realize is that it can also lead to the loss of your automobile, at least in some circumstances. To learn more about how your car or truck can be seized following a Mooresville DWI, keep reading.

First, let's discuss where police get the authority to seize your vehicle in the first place. The law, specifically North Carolina General Statutes Section 20-28.3, says that the state (meaning law enforcement authorities) are allowed to seize, impound or forfeit the vehicle of any person who has been charged with DWI under certain circumstances. What are those circumstances? The law says that the person charged with the DWI must have either had a revoked license at the time or have been driving without a license or insurance. If one of these things occurs, then the Mooresville Police Department is within their right to seize your vehicle.

So what happens to the vehicle after it is seized? Do you get compensated for the seized vehicle? The answer to the second question is a resounding no. If police seize your vehicle they are under no obligation to compensate you for the loss of transportation. This is seen as an appropriate legal penalty due to your alleged violation of the rules of the road. Not only will the police not pay you for the seizure, you will be expected to pay them for their time and expense. That is right, you will be forced to pay fees associated with the storage and towing of your vehicle.

This talk of towing might make you wonder what actually happened to the vehicle. Where does MPD take it once it's been seized? Right after the vehicle is seized it will likely be taken to a local impound lot. This local lot serves as a kind of halfway house for the vehicle. After some time has passed, enough for the authorities to do the required paperwork, it will then be towed to the statewide impound lot. The statewide impound lot is located in Linden, NC. This becomes the vehicle's final resting place until the issues surrounding its seizure have been resolved to the satisfaction of law enforcement.

What can happen to the vehicle after it has been towed? Unfortunately, there is no easy way to answer this question as it depends entirely on the specific facts of your case. In some cases, perhaps due to the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, the vehicle may be returned to you. In other cases, the seizure becomes permanent, with the state taking possession of the vehicle permanently. In many cases, what eventually happens is that the vehicle is turned over to a local school board and is then sold to raise money.

Another common question as it relates to vehicle forfeiture involves what happens if the vehicle was being driven by someone else at the time it was seized. Sadly, Mooresville police can still seize a vehicle even if it is not being driven by the owner. The owner will be assumed to have permitted the person to drive the vehicle and will thus be held legally responsible for the driver's actions, justifying the seizure. To get the vehicle back, you will need to argue that the seizure is unjustified. To do this, you will need to prove one of the following things. First, that you were unaware and had no reason to know that the driver of the vehicle had violated or was planning to violate any laws that would lead to the vehicle's seizure. You could also claim that the driver took your vehicle without permission and that you reported this taking to the authorities. Another defense would be to claim that you own a rental company and the driver was not the designated operator under the rental agreement or that you were not aware that the driver's license had been revoked when you agreed to rent him or her the vehicle. If you can't prove one of these things, your vehicle will likely be seized even if you were not operating it at the time.

If you live in the Lake Norman area and have had your vehicle seized by the authorities, the good news is you do not have to deal with the situation alone. The attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are experienced in handling a variety of issues associated with DWI cases, including vehicle seizures. Our lawyers will work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the best defense possible and will fight for the return of your vehicle. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today.