Canada's New DUI Forfeiture Law: Driver's Cars Seized, Sold at Auctions
By: Mary Ann Pekara
Last week, for the first time in Canada, cars were permanently seized in Ontario from repeat DUI offenders and eventually towed to public auctions to be sold. Proceeds of the sales will go to victims of crime and anti-drunk driving organizations.
One of the first cars seized under the law was a blue GMC pickup that belonged to an Iroquois Falls man before he was arrested for his third drunk driving conviction in a decade, according to an article in the Timmins Daily Press. The vehicle will be making tours around the province to raise awareness of the law and discourage impaired driving.
The new Ontario forfeiture law, in effect since February, allows civil courts to forfeit a vehicle if the court finds that it was likely involved in a DUI incident. It can also forfeit a vehicle if the car is owned or driven by someone who's been involved in two or more DUI-related incidents within a 10-year period.
A DUI conviction isn't even needed to get your car permanently towed away; if a driver's license is suspended two or more times for drinking and driving, their vehicle is subject to seizure.
Additionally, the vehicle can be seized from owners who've never even been arrested for drinking and driving, but lent their cars to someone they knew might operate the vehicle under the influence.
This new Ontario DUI law applies to automobiles, motorcycles, motor-assisted bicycles and snowmobiles.
Can Vehicle Forfeiture Happen in America?
Actually, yes. Thirty-two states have vehicle forfeiture laws for multiple DUI offenders. Depending on the specifics of each state's laws, if you're arrested a second time for DUI, the police may have the legal authority to take your car.
For example, Minnesota DUI law states that if you're arrested for a second DUI offense with a BAC of .20 or higher, your car could be seized by the authorities. In other states, similar to Ontario's law, the owner's car can be seized if another driver got the DUI while operating the owner's car.
Know the DUI laws in your state. Currently, the states that have vehicle forfeiture laws are:
Not all states actively enforce their vehicle seizure laws, but that doesn't mean they won't in the future.
If you find your car being seized by the authorities for DUI, you'll want a DUI attorney on your side as quickly as possible to avoid missing filing deadlines. In some states, a DUI lawyer may be able to get the car returned to its true owner if the vehicle didn't belong to the driver.
Additionally, if the car is not yet fully paid off, a DUI attorney may be able to get the car turned back over to the finance company. Don't risk losing your ride unnecessarily-contact a DUI lawyer today.