Have you heard of drug forfeitures? It’s a relatively common idea. You get arrested for a drug related offense and any property you have related to the commission of the crime is seized by the Government. Well the City of Yakima is applying this law to DUI cases. So what does that mean? Get a DUI in Yakima and your vehicle will get seized.
How can this happen you ask? Well the City of Yakima has started a pilot program to see how this process plays out. They are using a relatively obscure state statute created in 1994 which allows for the forfeiture of a vehicle in the commission of a crime. So if you get arrested for a DUI then the vehicle you were driving will get taken from you.
Under the pilot program the City of Yakima is only targeting repeat offenders. In fact they have released a 31 second youtube video warning drivers of this possibility. Now the program does have a few kinks that need to be worked out and there are some exceptions when the forfeiture cannot happen.
Specifically in order for the forfeiture to take place the defendant of the DUI must have been driving the vehicle in question, and they must be the owner. So if you’re driving someone else’s vehicle and you get popped for a DUI. The owner will not lose their vehicle under this law. In addition to those requirements for the DUI arrest and forfeiture there are some procedural safeguards to protect the owner of the vehicle.
First of all there is a 45 day claim period. So the vehicle must be taken within that time frame. Additionally there is an appeal process one can go through to fight the forfeiture. There are also safeguards for innocent spousal interests, and lienholders of a vehicle. In other words if the bank owns your car it may not be taken if they challenge the forfeiture.
This is an interesting idea. The problem I see is finding the targeted vehicles, and dealing with all the exceptions to this law. I’m glad they are not applying this new discovered law to first time offenders. My only qualm is how will this prevent future drunk driving. Yes, I know the vehicle is gone. But in my experience most non first time offenders aren’t driving their own vehicles. There are already measures in place they disregard such an ignition interlock requirements and insurance. So how is taking a vehicle when there are so many other ways to get one going to stop a determined driver.
_ About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI lawyer. He is rated as one of the Top DUI Attorneys in Seattle by Avvo, and has been named a Rising Star in the field of DUI Defense by Super Lawyers and the Seattle Met Magazine.