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Minnesota DWI Forfeiture Statute Declared Unconstitutional!

The Minnesota Court of Appeals held today that the DWI forfeiture statute is unconstitutional because the statute does not provide for a prompt hearing!

The Minnesota DWI Forfeiture Statute § 169A.63, subd. 9(d) states:

 “A judicial determination under this subdivision must be held at the earliest practicable date, and in any event no later than 180 days following the filing of the demand by the claimant. If a related criminal proceeding is pending, the hearing shall not be held until the conclusion of the criminal proceedings. The district court administrator shall schedule the hearing as soon as practicable after the conclusion of the criminal prosecution. The district court administrator shall establish procedures to ensure efficient compliance with this subdivision. The hearing is to the court without a jury.”

In other words, the Minnesota DWI forfeiture statute does not allow anyone to obtain a hearing to challenge the forfeiture of the vehicle until the underlying criminal case has been resolved. The statute effectively allows the state to take away the car for months before any hearing can be held. The Court of Appeals quite rightly said that this violates due process because you can’t generally take away someone’s property without first giving them a hearing. I have been raising this same argument in all of my Minnesota DWI forfeiture cases and it looks like all my clients will soon be sitting in the driver’s seat! If you or a loved one have been arrested for a Minnesota DWI, or are facing a DWI forfeiture of your vehicle, contact Minnesota DWI Attorney, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI and forfeiture questions.