Could You Lose Your Vehicle in a Seattle DUI?

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Mar 12

Lewis & Laws

Could You Lose Your Vehicle in a Seattle DUI?

by Lewis & Laws

Could You Lose Your Vehicle in a Seattle DUI?

Washington state courts and legislature are becoming tougher and tougher on those accused and convicted of DUI. As one of the many ways the state has increased DUI penalties, they now take the relatively drastic step of deprivation of property.

Many Washington residents would be shocked to know that vehicle forfeiture has been statutorily allowed in the state since 2009 for a second or subsequent DUI. In 2013, the state legislature formally allowed the sentencing court to consider vehicle forfeiture upon a second or subsequent DUI conviction.

In other words, prior to 2013, it was authorized, but the court was not ordered to consider it at the time of the DUI sentencing. The current statute provides that vehicle forfeiture will not be considered when a person is arrested for a second or subsequent DUI within seven years or where probable cause exists to believe a DUI was committed.

How Vehicle Forfeiture Works in Seattle

In theory, vehicle forfeiture is designed to deter criminal offenses. In practice, vehicle forfeiture can be extremely over the top, having little connection to the alleged DUI. If law enforcement seized your vehicle following a second or subsequent DUI charge, you may be extremely anxious about your situation—after all, vehicles not only cost a significant amount of money, you may probably need your vehicle to get to and from work, to take your children to school and to run necessary daily errands.

Under the statute, the motor vehicle driven by the person accused of a second or subsequent DUI must be a vehicle in which the person has a financial interest in. The seizure notification must be served within fifteen days following the seizure on the person in charge of the vehicle and on any person or persons who have a known right or interest in the vehicle. This includes a vehicle in which a person has a community property interest.

The seizure notification could be through certified mail return receipt service or by other methods authorized under the law. If no person notifies the law enforcement agency who seized the vehicle in writing with a claim of ownership within forty-five days of the seizure, the vehicle will be deemed forfeited. If the law enforcement agency receives such a notification, they must give the person or persons a reasonable opportunity to be heard regarding rights to the vehicle.

Once a vehicle is forfeited, the law enforcement agency which seized the vehicle can sell it, keep it for official use, or release the vehicle to another law enforcement agency. The agency which seizes the vehicle must keep records of the vehicle for at least seven years.

Vehicle Seizure and other Penalties for Consecutive DUI Charges

The lookback period is seven years—if your prior DUI conviction took place longer than 84 months prior, you will be charged with a first-time DUI. If you committed a similar offense within the prior 84 months, your current DUI charge will be considered a subsequent offense.

A second-time DUI conviction could result in 30 days to 364 days in jail, 60 days of EHM, a fine as large as $5,000, a two-year driver's license suspension and seizure of your vehicle.

Third, fourth and subsequent DUI charges could result in even harsher penalties.

If you are facing a second or subsequent DUI, you are looking at an array of serious penalties, including possibly losing your vehicle to seizure. It is imperative that you speak to an experienced Seattle DUI attorney as quickly as possible to ensure the best outcome possible.

Getting Help From Seattle DUI Defense Attorneys at Lewis & Laws, PLLC

If you are facing a second or subsequent DUI charge in Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Everett, or anywhere in the state of Washington, contact a knowledgeable Seattle DUI attorney quickly for the legal assistance you need. The consequences of a DUI could destroy your entire future.

Contacting an experienced Seattle DUI defense lawyer is the key to winning the battle and fighting these serious charges. The experienced lawyers at Lewis & Laws, PLLC have successfully defended clients in Seattle, Bellevue, and Kirkland. Contact us today at 206.209.0608 or fill out our online contact form to get more information or to get a free case review!

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