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Can you lose your vehicle for a DWI?

Getting a DWI comes with many consequences, some immediate and some long-term. You may be worried about what the consequences will be. Most include paying fines, losing your license for a period of time, going to jail or completing a treatment program. In addition, you may face discipline at work or school, as well as higher insurance rates. 

Perhaps you have heard about other penalties, such as losing your car, known as vehicle forfeiture. Judicial forfeiture means a court order is necessary to take the vehicle. Administrative means the only requirement is a notice to the owner. Will either happen to you if you get a DWI in Minnesota?

Minnesota law on vehicle forfeiture

If this is your first DWI, there were no aggravating factors and you have a valid license with full driving privileges, you are not at risk of losing your car. On the other hand, vehicle forfeiture is highly probable if you meet the following circumstances:

  • You have had multiple DWIs in the past 10 years.
  • You have a prior felony DWI conviction. 
  • There were more than one aggravating factors, which include a DWI conviction or license revocation in the last decade, a BAC higher than 0.20 percent or a passenger that was 15 years old or younger.
  • There was one aggravating factor, and you refused to take a chemical test.

The first two fall under first-degree DWI, and the last two are second-degree DWIs. You can also face the loss of your vehicle if you were driving with a B-card or canceled license. Legal steps may be available to you to regain ownership of your car.

When you are not the offender

What if you lent your car to a family member or friend, who then violated the law in a way that warranted the forfeiture of your vehicle? The good news is that updates to legislation have accounted for that situation, allowing you to petition the court under specific circumstances.

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