169A.63 VEHICLE FORFEITURE.
Subdivision 1. Definitions.
(a) As used in this section, the following terms have the
meanings given them.
(b) "Appropriate agency" means a law enforcement agency that has the authority to make an
arrest for a violation of a designated offense or to require a test under section
tests for intoxication).
(c) "Claimant" means an owner of a motor vehicle or a person claiming a leasehold or
security interest in a motor vehicle.
(d) "Designated license revocation" includes a license revocation under section
(license revocation for test failure or refusal) or a license disqualification under section
(commercial driver's license disqualification) resulting from a violation of section
within ten years of the first of two or more qualified prior impaired driving incidents.
(e) "Designated offense" includes:
(1) a violation of section
(driving while impaired) under the circumstances
described in section
(first-degree driving while impaired), or
driving while impaired); or
(2) a violation of section
or an ordinance in conformity with it:
(i) by a person whose driver's license or driving privileges have been canceled as inimical to
public safety under section
171.04, subdivision 1
, clause (10), and not reinstated; or
(ii) by a person who is subject to a restriction on the person's driver's license under section
(commissioner's license restrictions), which provides that the person may not use or
consume any amount of alcohol or a controlled substance.
(f) "Family or household member" means:
(1) a parent, stepparent, or guardian;
(2) any of the following persons related by blood, marriage, or adoption: brother, sister,
stepbrother, stepsister, first cousin, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece, grandparent, great-grandparent,
great-uncle, great-aunt; or
(3) persons residing together or persons who regularly associate and communicate with
one another outside of a workplace setting.
(g) "Motor vehicle" and "vehicle" do not include a vehicle which is stolen or taken in
violation of the law.
(h) "Owner" means a person legally entitled to possession, use, and control of a motor
vehicle, including a lessee of a motor vehicle if the lease agreement has a term of 180 days or
more. There is a rebuttable presumption that a person registered as the owner of a motor vehicle
according to the records of the Department of Public Safety is the legal owner. For purposes of
this section, if a motor vehicle is owned jointly by two or more people, each owner's interest
extends to the whole of the vehicle and is not subject to apportionment.
(i) "Prosecuting authority" means the attorney in the jurisdiction in which the designated
offense occurred who is responsible for prosecuting violations of a designated offense or a
designee. If a state agency initiated the forfeiture, and the attorney responsible for prosecuting the
designated offense declines to pursue forfeiture, the Attorney General's Office or its designee may
initiate forfeiture under this section.
(j) "Security interest" means a bona fide security interest perfected according to section
168A.17, subdivision 2
, based on a loan or other financing that, if a vehicle is required to be
registered under chapter 168, is listed on the vehicle's title.
Subd. 2. Seizure.
(a) A motor vehicle subject to forfeiture under this section may be seized
by the appropriate agency upon process issued by any court having jurisdiction over the vehicle.
(b) Property may be seized without process if:
(1) the seizure is incident to a lawful arrest or a lawful search;
(2) the vehicle subject to seizure has been the subject of a prior judgment in favor of the state
in a criminal injunction or forfeiture proceeding under this section; or
(3) the appropriate agency has probable cause to believe that the delay occasioned by the
necessity to obtain process would result in the removal or destruction of the vehicle. If property
is seized without process under this clause, the prosecuting authority must institute a forfeiture
action under this section as soon as is reasonably possible by serving a notice of seizure and intent
to forfeit at the address of the owner as listed in the records of the Department of Public Safety.
Subd. 3. Right to possession vests immediately; custody.
All right, title, and interest in a
vehicle subject to forfeiture under this section vests in the appropriate agency upon commission
of the conduct resulting in the designated offense or designated license revocation giving rise
to the forfeiture. Any vehicle seized under this section is not subject to replevin, but is deemed
to be in the custody of the appropriate agency subject to the orders and decrees of the court
having jurisdiction over the forfeiture proceedings. When a vehicle is seized under this section,
the appropriate agency may:
(1) place the vehicle under seal;
(2) remove the vehicle to a place designated by it;
(3) place a disabling device on the vehicle; and
(4) take other steps reasonable and necessary to secure the vehicle and prevent waste.
Subd. 4. Bond by owner for possession.
If the owner of a vehicle that has been seized under
this section seeks possession of the vehicle before the forfeiture action is determined, the owner
may, subject to the approval of the appropriate agency, give security or post bond payable to the
appropriate agency in an amount equal to the retail value of the seized vehicle. On posting the
security or bond, the seized vehicle may be returned to the owner only if a disabling device is
attached to the vehicle. The forfeiture action must proceed against the security as if it were the
Subd. 5. Evidence.
Certified copies of court records and motor vehicle and driver's license
records concerning qualified prior impaired driving incidents are admissible as substantive
evidence where necessary to prove the commission of a designated offense or the occurrence
of a designated license revocation.
Subd. 6. Vehicle subject to forfeiture.
(a) A motor vehicle is subject to forfeiture under
this section if it was used in the commission of a designated offense or was used in conduct
resulting in a designated license revocation.
(b) Motorboats subject to seizure and forfeiture under this section also include their trailers.
Subd. 7. Limitations on vehicle forfeiture.
(a) A vehicle is presumed subject to forfeiture
under this section if:
(1) the driver is convicted of the designated offense upon which the forfeiture is based;
(2) the driver fails to appear for a scheduled court appearance with respect to the designated
offense charged and fails to voluntarily surrender within 48 hours after the time required for
(3) the driver's conduct results in a designated license revocation and the driver fails to seek
judicial review of the revocation in a timely manner as required by section
, (petition for judicial review), or the license revocation is judicially reviewed and sustained
169A.53, subdivision 2
(b) A vehicle encumbered by a security interest perfected according to section
, or subject to a lease that has a term of 180 days or more, is subject to the interest of
the secured party or lessor unless the party or lessor had knowledge of or consented to the act upon
which the forfeiture is based. However, when the proceeds of the sale of a seized vehicle do not
equal or exceed the outstanding loan balance, the appropriate agency shall remit all proceeds of the
sale to the secured party after deducting the agency's costs for the seizure, tow, storage, forfeiture,
and sale of the vehicle. If the sale of the vehicle is conducted in a commercially reasonable manner
consistent with the provisions of section
, the agency is not liable to the secured party
for any amount owed on the loan in excess of the sale proceeds. The validity and amount of a
nonperfected security interest must be established by its holder by clear and convincing evidence.
(c) Notwithstanding paragraph (b), the secured party's or lessor's interest in a vehicle is
not subject to forfeiture based solely on the secured party's or lessor's knowledge of the act
or omission upon which the forfeiture is based if the secured party or lessor demonstrates by
clear and convincing evidence that the party or lessor took reasonable steps to terminate use of
the vehicle by the offender.
(d) A motor vehicle is not subject to forfeiture under this section if its owner can demonstrate
by clear and convincing evidence that the owner did not have actual or constructive knowledge
that the vehicle would be used or operated in any manner contrary to law or that the owner took
reasonable steps to prevent use of the vehicle by the offender. If the offender is a family or
household member of the owner and has three or more prior impaired driving convictions, the
owner is presumed to know of any vehicle use by the offender that is contrary to law. "Vehicle use
contrary to law" includes, but is not limited to, violations of the following statutes:
(violations; driving without valid license);
(criminal penalty for failure to produce proof of insurance);
(driving restrictions; authority, violations);
(driving while impaired);
(underage drinking and driving); and
(open bottle law).
Subd. 8. Administrative forfeiture procedure.
(a) A motor vehicle used to commit a
designated offense or used in conduct resulting in a designated license revocation is subject to
administrative forfeiture under this subdivision.
(b) When a motor vehicle is seized under subdivision 2, or within a reasonable time after
seizure, the appropriate agency shall serve the driver or operator of the vehicle with a notice of
the seizure and intent to forfeit the vehicle. Additionally, when a motor vehicle is seized under
subdivision 2, or within a reasonable time after that, all persons known to have an ownership,
possessory, or security interest in the vehicle must be notified of the seizure and the intent to
forfeit the vehicle. For those vehicles required to be registered under chapter 168, the notification
to a person known to have a security interest in the vehicle is required only if the vehicle is
registered under chapter 168 and the interest is listed on the vehicle's title. Notice mailed by
certified mail to the address shown in Department of Public Safety records is sufficient notice to
the registered owner of the vehicle. For motor vehicles not required to be registered under chapter
168, notice mailed by certified mail to the address shown in the applicable filing or registration for
the vehicle is sufficient notice to a person known to have an ownership, possessory, or security
interest in the vehicle. Otherwise, notice may be given in the manner provided by law for service
of a summons in a civil action.
(c) The notice must be in writing and contain:
(1) a description of the vehicle seized;
(2) the date of seizure; and
(3) notice of the right to obtain judicial review of the forfeiture and of the procedure
for obtaining that judicial review, printed in English, Hmong, and Spanish. Substantially the
following language must appear conspicuously: "IF YOU DO NOT DEMAND JUDICIAL
REVIEW EXACTLY AS PRESCRIBED IN MINNESOTA STATUTES, SECTION
SUBDIVISION 8, YOU LOSE THE RIGHT TO A JUDICIAL DETERMINATION
OF THIS FORFEITURE AND YOU LOSE ANY RIGHT YOU MAY HAVE TO THE
ABOVE-DESCRIBED PROPERTY. YOU MAY NOT HAVE TO PAY THE FILING FEE
FOR THE DEMAND IF DETERMINED YOU ARE UNABLE TO AFFORD THE FEE.
IF THE PROPERTY IS WORTH $7,500 OR LESS, YOU MAY FILE YOUR CLAIM IN
CONCILIATION COURT. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY THE CONCILIATION COURT
FILING FEE IF THE PROPERTY IS WORTH LESS THAN $500."
(d) Within 30 days following service of a notice of seizure and forfeiture under this
subdivision, a claimant may file a demand for a judicial determination of the forfeiture. The
demand must be in the form of a civil complaint and must be filed with the court administrator in
the county in which the seizure occurred, together with proof of service of a copy of the complaint
on the prosecuting authority having jurisdiction over the forfeiture and the appropriate agency
that initiated the forfeiture, including the standard filing fee for civil actions unless the petitioner
has the right to sue in forma pauperis under section
. If the value of the seized property is
$7,500 or less, the claimant may file an action in conciliation court for recovery of the seized
vehicle. A copy of the conciliation court statement of claim must be served personally or by mail
on the prosecuting authority having jurisdiction over the forfeiture, as well as on the appropriate
agency that initiated the forfeiture, within 30 days following service of the notice of seizure and
forfeiture under this subdivision. If the value of the seized property is less than $500, the claimant
does not have to pay the conciliation court filing fee.
No responsive pleading is required of the prosecuting authority and no court fees may be
charged for the prosecuting authority's appearance in the matter. The prosecuting authority may
appear for the appropriate agency. Pleadings, filings, and methods of service are governed by the
Rules of Civil Procedure.
(e) The complaint must be captioned in the name of the claimant as plaintiff and the seized
vehicle as defendant, and must state with specificity the grounds on which the claimant alleges the
vehicle was improperly seized, the claimant's interest in the vehicle seized, and any affirmative
defenses the claimant may have. Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, an action for the
return of a vehicle seized under this section may not be maintained by or on behalf of any person
who has been served with a notice of seizure and forfeiture unless the person has complied
with this subdivision.
(f) If the claimant makes a timely demand for a judicial determination under this subdivision,
the forfeiture proceedings must be conducted as provided under subdivision 9.
Subd. 9. Judicial forfeiture procedure.
(a) This subdivision governs judicial determinations
of the forfeiture of a motor vehicle used to commit a designated offense or used in conduct
resulting in a designated license revocation. An action for forfeiture is a civil in rem action
and is independent of any criminal prosecution. All proceedings are governed by the Rules
of Civil Procedure.
(b) If no demand for judicial determination of the forfeiture is pending, the prosecuting
authority may, in the name of the jurisdiction pursuing the forfeiture, file a separate complaint
against the vehicle, describing it, specifying that it was used in the commission of a designated
offense or was used in conduct resulting in a designated license revocation, and specifying the
time and place of its unlawful use.
(c) The prosecuting authority may file an answer to a properly served demand for judicial
determination, including an affirmative counterclaim for forfeiture. The prosecuting authority is
not required to file an answer.
(d) A judicial determination under this subdivision must not precede adjudication in the
criminal prosecution of the designated offense without the consent of the prosecuting authority.
The district court administrator shall schedule the hearing as soon as practicable after adjudication
in the criminal prosecution. The district court administrator shall establish procedures to ensure
efficient compliance with this subdivision. The hearing is to the court without a jury.
(e) There is a presumption that a vehicle seized under this section is subject to forfeiture if
the prosecuting authority establishes that the vehicle was used in the commission of a designated
offense or designated license revocation. A claimant bears the burden of proving any affirmative
(f) If the forfeiture is based on the commission of a designated offense and the person
charged with the designated offense appears in court as required and is not convicted of the
offense, the court shall order the property returned to the person legally entitled to it upon that
person's compliance with the redemption requirements of section
. If the forfeiture is
based on a designated license revocation, and the license revocation is rescinded under section
169A.53, subdivision 3
(judicial review hearing, issues, order, appeal), the court shall order the
property returned to the person legally entitled to it upon that person's compliance with the
redemption requirements of section
(g) If the lawful ownership of the vehicle used in the commission of a designated offense or
used in conduct resulting in a designated license revocation can be determined and the owner
makes the demonstration required under subdivision 7, paragraph (d), the vehicle must be returned
immediately upon the owner's compliance with the redemption requirements of section
(h) If the court orders the return of a seized vehicle under this subdivision it must order
that filing fees be reimbursed to the person who filed the demand for judicial determination.
In addition, the court may order sanctions under section
(sanctions in civil actions).
Any reimbursement fees or sanctions must be paid from other forfeiture proceeds of the law
enforcement agency and prosecuting authority involved and in the same proportion as distributed
under subdivision 10, paragraph (b).
Subd. 10. Disposition of forfeited vehicle.
(a) If the vehicle is administratively forfeited
under subdivision 8, or if the court finds under subdivision 9 that the vehicle is subject to
forfeiture under subdivisions 6 and 7, the appropriate agency shall:
(1) sell the vehicle and distribute the proceeds under paragraph (b); or
(2) keep the vehicle for official use. If the agency keeps a forfeited motor vehicle for official
use, it shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the motor vehicle is available for use by the
agency's officers who participate in the drug abuse resistance education program.
(b) The proceeds from the sale of forfeited vehicles, after payment of seizure, towing,
storage, forfeiture, and sale expenses, and satisfaction of valid liens against the property, must
be distributed as follows:
(1) 70 percent of the proceeds must be forwarded to the appropriate agency for deposit as a
supplement to the state or local agency's operating fund or similar fund for use in DWI-related
enforcement, training, and education; and
(2) 30 percent of the money or proceeds must be forwarded to the prosecuting authority
that handled the forfeiture for deposit as a supplement to its operating fund or similar fund for
Subd. 11. Sale of forfeited vehicle by secured party.
(a) A financial institution with a valid
security interest in or a valid lease covering a forfeited vehicle may choose to dispose of the
vehicle under this subdivision, in lieu of the appropriate agency disposing of the vehicle under
subdivision 9. A financial institution wishing to dispose of a vehicle under this subdivision shall
notify the appropriate agency of its intent, in writing, within 30 days after receiving notice of the
seizure and forfeiture. The appropriate agency shall release the vehicle to the financial institution
or its agent after the financial institution presents proof of its valid security agreement or of its
lease agreement and the financial institution agrees not to sell the vehicle to a member of the
violator's household, unless the violator is not convicted of the offense on which the forfeiture
is based. The financial institution shall dispose of the vehicle in a commercially reasonable
manner as defined in section
(b) After disposing of the forfeited vehicle, the financial institution shall reimburse the
appropriate agency for its seizure, storage, and forfeiture costs. The financial institution may then
apply the proceeds of the sale to its storage costs, to its sale expenses, and to satisfy the lien or the
lease on the vehicle. If any proceeds remain, the financial institution shall forward the proceeds to
the state treasury, which shall credit the appropriate fund as specified in subdivision 9.
History: 2000 c 466 s 3,4; 2000 c 478 art 1 s 37; art 2 s 7; 2000 c 495 s 46; 2001 c 195 art 2
s 8,9; 1Sp2001 c 8 art 11 s 11; art 12 s 12,13; 1Sp2001 c 9 art 19 s 12; 2002 c 379 art 1 s 113;
2004 c 235 s 3-8; 2005 c 136 art 18 s 7; 1Sp2005 c 1 art 2 s 139