On February 14, 2018, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that the insurance proceeds from a wrecked vehicle are not subject to forfeiture even if the vehicle itself is subject to forfeiture. In the case of Briles v. One 2003 GMC, the son of Mr. Briles was operating the 2003 GMC vehicle when he was involved in a serious property damage accident. The son was arrested for DWI and a Notice of Intent To Forfeit the vehicle was served on Mr. Briles. The county attorney also sent a letter to the auto insurance company telling them not to disburse any funds until the forfeiture case was resloved.
Mr. Briles did not file a timely challenge to the forfeiture of the vehicle but he did file a challenge to the proposed forfeiture of the insurance proceeds. The Minnesota Court of Appeals held that the insurance proceeds were not subject to forfeiture (and you can click here for my analysis of the opinion) and the Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Court stating:
“Under the statute, “[a]ll right, title, and interest” in the vehicle is subject to forfeiture. See Minn. Stat. § 169A.63, subd. 3. Because insurance proceeds are an “interest” in a vehicle, the County contends, the statutory citation was sufficient to give Briles notice. The parties’ arguments require us to determine whether insurance proceeds payable on a vehicle that is subject to forfeiture under Minn. Stat. § 169A.63 are also subject to forfeiture because those proceeds are part of the owner’s “right, title, and interest” in the vehicle. We conclude that they are not.”
“The phrase “right, title, and interest” is a technical term with a well-developed legal meaning. We have recognized that a transfer using the phrase “right, title, and interest” conveys all interest in a piece of property. * * * An “interest” under this definition must be an interest in something—some piece of property. In the context of the vehicle forfeiture statute, that property is the “vehicle subject to forfeiture,” and only property rights in that vehicle are subject to forfeiture. See Minn. Stat. § 169A.63, subd. 3. Insurance proceeds that flow from an insurance policy that covers a vehicle subject to forfeiture are not an interest in that vehicle; they are payments due under an insurance contract.”
If you or a loved one have been arrested for a Minnesota DWI, or are facing a DWI forfeiture of your vehicle, feel free to contact Minneapolis DWI Lawyer F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI and vehicle forfeiture questions.