DC DUI and Vehicle Forfeiture
Explore the complexities of DC-DUI laws and vehicle forfeiture with Scrofano Law PC. Learn about your rights and how our experienced DC-DUI lawyers can help.
Understanding DUI and Vehicle Forfeiture in DC
Have you or your loved one been arrested for DUI in the District of Columbia? Understanding what DUI and vehicle forfeiture entails is very important. Likewise, it is essential you know the legal process involved in DUI cases and the potential vehicle forfeiture you may face when certain discoveries are made after your DUI arrest.
An experienced DUI lawyer can give you the necessary guidance and assistance you may need to understand your charges. They can also help you analyze your case and build strong defense strategies in your defense.
At Scrofano Law PC, our experienced DUI attorneys are willing to fight to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome based on the facts of your DUI case. This article will help you understand what DUI is and what happens to your car after a DUI arrest.
DC DUI Arrest: What Happens to Your Car?
Driving under the influence or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs contravenes the law in Washington, DC. Police officers are empowered to stop persons they believe or reasonably suspect driving under the influence. When convicted of such an offense for the first time, it is punishable by up to 180 days and a $1,000 fine.
When you are arrested and charged with DUI, your car may be kept in a number of locations. In most situations, the arresting police officer will make you park your car on the side of the street so that you can retrieve it after your release from the police station.
When the car is parked in a hazardous location, the police officers can drive the vehicle to the police station. You can retrieve your car at the police station after your release. You can retrieve your car shortly after your arrest or before the court date.
Impoundment of Vehicles in DUI Cases
In DUI cases, arresting police officers can also impound cars. When a person’s car is impounded due to a DUI arrest, it can be searched to take an inventory of the items present in the vehicle at the time of arrest.
This search infers that items found in your vehicle can be used as evidence against you. For instance, you can be charged with illegal possession of unlicensed or unregistered weapons by the Office of the Attorney General if such items are found in your car.
Police officers are authorized to search your impounded vehicle. Likewise, they can seize any allegedly illegal items in the car and charge you to court for any contraband found in your vehicle during the inventory search.
When a police officer discovers drugs or controlled substances in your car, the consequences may vary depending on the substance found. Having illegal substances in your vehicle increases the potential penalties you may face beyond DUI penalties.
It is essential you also note that vehicles are not usually towed and impounded unless when they are involved in accidents.
Asset Forfeiture in DC
DC Laws provides for civil asset forfeiture, including vehicle forfeiture in the District of Columbia. Properties subject to forfeiture include real property, vehicles, personal property, or US currency.
DUI is one of the forfeitable offenses in DC. Forfeitable offenses in DC include traffic offenses such as speeding and reckless driving, illegal possession of firearms, trademark counterfeiting, drug possession and dealing, gambling, and prostitution.
When Can Your Vehicle Be Forfeited?
In Washington, DC, your vehicle can be forfeited if it is proven that it was used to engage in criminal activity. When your car is impounded after a DUI arrest, there are situations where your vehicle can be seized because of civil forfeiture.
If this happens, the authorities can seize your vehicle and bring a civil lawsuit, which is separate from your criminal DUI charges. The District is permitted to seize and sometimes sell your vehicle/property, regardless of whether or not the DUI charges against you are dismissed or reduced.
As the forfeiture proceeding is a civil proceeding, the DC government has a lighter burden of proof to seize and forfeit your vehicle, even if the alleged crime was not proven in your criminal case.
The Legal Process of Vehicle Forfeiture
When you are a party to a forfeiture action, you have the right to trial by jury, and you may contest your vehicle forfeiture by filing a claim with the District stating your interest and intention to contest the potential forfeiture. When filing your claim, you can also request an interim release of your vehicle.
When you contest the seizure and forfeiture of your vehicle, the government has 60 days to request a hearing by filing a libel of information. In cases where you have retaken possession of your vehicle pending trial, the deadline is extended to 90 days.
To build a strong defense against DUI charges and vehicle forfeitures, it is vital that you speak with attorneys knowledgeable about DUI charges and forfeiture cases.
Scrofano Law PC Can Help You
Being arrested for DUI does not automatically guarantee a conviction. It would benefit you to reach out to experienced DUI attorneys immediately after you are arrested for a DUI offense in DC. Such attorneys are knowledgeable in laws concerning DUI and can also help you ascertain whether your rights have been breached when your vehicle is searched illegally.
Our experienced DUI attorneys at Scrofano Law PC can help you challenge the legality of any search that may have been carried out in your car after a DUI arrest. We will help you analyze your DC DUI case, build robust defense strategies, and represent you at trials to secure the best possible outcome for you.
Contact us today for your DC DUI and vehicle forfeiture cases.
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