Vehicle Seizures

If you have been charged with a DWI, not only do you lose your license, you may actually lose your vehicle. North Carolina General Statute § 20-28.3 permits the state to seize, impound, and forfeit the vehicle of anyone charged with driving while impaired if the driver had a revoked license or was driving without a license or insurance. After forfeiture, you receive neither payment for your vehicle’s sale nor any insurance reimbursements. Moreover, you will have to pay for your vehicle’s storage and towing costs.

What Can Arnold & Smith, PLLC Do?

Aside from offering highly reputable DWI representation, the experienced attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC will represent you in a separate hearing for a determination regarding vehicle forfeiture. At this forfeiture hearing, our attorneys will fight to have your vehicle returned to your possession immediately. Regardless of your situation, it is important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible so that you can begin the steps to getting your vehicle back. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today to learn more about your options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can the police just take my vehicle?

A: Under North Carolina law, law enforcement officers are required to seize a vehicle anytime the driver is charged with a DWI and either (1) currently has a revoked license for a prior DWI; or (2) has no license and no insurance.

Q: Where did the police take my vehicle?

A: Your vehicle will first be towed to a local impound yard. After a few days, it will be transferred to Linden, NC to the statewide impound yard.

Q: What happens to my vehicle after it has been towed?

A: There are a number of things that may happen to your vehicle once it has been towed. Hopefully, you will be able to have the vehicle released back into your custody. Unfortunately, however, there is a strong possibility that your vehicle will be forfeited to the local school board to be sold. In fact, your vehicle may even be sold without a court mandate.

Q: What if someone else was driving my vehicle?

A: Unfortunately, under North Carolina law, your vehicle may still be subject to seizure and forfeiture even if someone else was driving when the offense occurred. In order to disclaim responsibility and obtain your vehicle’s release, you must show one of the following:
  1. You were unaware and had no reason to know that the driver of your vehicle was in violation of any laws;
  2. The driver took your vehicle without your permission and you reported the unauthorized use to the police;
  3. The driver stole your vehicle and you reported the theft;
  4. You operate a vehicle rental company and the driver was not the designated operator on the rental agreement;
  5. You operate a vehicle leasing company and were unaware that the driver’s license was revoked when you entered into the lease agreement.

Otherwise, you may be able to post a bond equal to the vehicle’s value. However, posting the bond will only permit temporary use until the matter is further resolved.

Q: Do I have to pay towing and storage fees even if I was not at fault?

A: Unfortunately, there are no exceptions to the requirement that all storage and towing fees be paid in full prior to a vehicle’s release.

Q: How do I get my vehicle back if I was driving?

A: Among other things, you will need to prove that your license was not revoked at the time of the offense and you had valid insurance.

Q: When can the State sell my vehicle without court order?

A: The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is authorized to sell forfeited vehicles under any of the following circumstances:

  1. The owner consents to the sale;
  2. The towing and storage fees have reached 85% of the vehicles value; or
  3. The car has been stored for 90 days and the vehicle is worth less than $1,500.

Q: What happens to my personal property left in my car?

A: As long as you prove ownership, you have the right to obtain your personal belongings from the vehicle.

Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC

Contact our office today to begin developing a powerful claim to prevent the government from taking and selling what is rightfully yours.