Maybe you thought you were doing a friend a favor letting them borrow your vehicle or maybe you were at the bar and thought your friend was doing you a favor driving your vehicle home when you’d clearly had too much to drink, whatever the circumstance, your vehicle was involved in a DWI offense.
The big question is what happens when an offender gets arrested for a DWI and the police try to perform a DWI Vehicle Seizure, but the offender is not the owner of the car? Can the owner get their vehicle back? The short answer is yes. The better answer is yes, but it will take some work. The Minnesota vehicle forfeiture law allows an exemption for what is referred to as an innocent owner.
The Minnesota Statue 169A.63 subd. 7(d) allows the owner of the vehicle to claim innocence in order to prevent their car from being seized. An innocent owner would need to appear in court and prove to the judge that they, as the owner, had no knowledge that the driver would violate the law by driving drunk. If they can prove they were unaware a crime would be committed, the vehicle will be returned even if the driver is found guilty of the offense.
Depending on the circumstances under which the driver received the vehicle, your chances on having the vehicle returned vary. If you loaned your vehicle to a friend, claiming no knowledge of what they planned to do with it is fairly simple. However, if you allowed your friend to drive your vehicle home from a bar, you may have a more difficult time getting the judge to believe you were not aware of a possible crime as the judge may rule a reasonable person should have known the driver was over the limit.
If the police have seized your vehicle, call attorney Anthony Grostyan for free advice on what you can to do to get the vehicle back immediately. If you do not filing a petition in court to contest the forfeiture within 60 days of the Notice of Intent to Seize Property, you will lose your right to contest the vehicle seizure. Call 612-341-6575 for advice about the vehicle forfeiture laws in Minnesota.