You may not have heard about what are called forfeiture laws. They allow the police and prosecution to take things from people accused of crimes, in some cases without a conviction. Forfeiture comes up most often in DUI, drunk driving cases. If you are convicted of DUI and have two other DUIS within 10 years your car can be forfeited, it can be taken when you are arrested, before any conviction. Even if you win the criminal case, it gets dismissed, reduced, or a jury finds you not guilty, your car can still be taken. That is because at the same time as you are accused of DUI there is something called an Implied Consent proceeding brought against you by the state. In that proceeding the state asks that your license be suspended, regardless of what happens with the criminal charges against you. In the implied consent case you do not get a trial by a jury, or, a legal presumption of innocence. All the state has to do is show by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning just over half of the evidence, that your license should be suspended. The suspension is automatic unless you take the initiative and file a challenge within 60 days of when you receive notice of their plan to suspend your license. Unlike a criminal charge, you do not get an attorney appointed if you cannot afford one. If you do not fight the license suspension, or fight it and lose, and have had two other license suspensions in the last three years, your car will be taken if the police give you a notice of forfeiture.
While we all want to see drunk driving stop, taking cars from people, which usually makes it impossible for them to get to work and attend to their other needs, is a very questionable action. Safety is not the issue, we now have Ignition Interlock, in car breathalyzers, which when installed prevent someone from starting a car if they have any alcohol on their breath. The only piece of good news, a law recently passed provides that if you sign up for interlock in time you can prevent your car from being forfeited. If you are facing a forfeiture you now have options to keep your car, but, you need to move fast.