Vehicle Forfeiture

In the state of Arizona, the operator of a motor vehicle arrested and convicted of the charge of driving under the influence (DUI) and aggravated driving while under the influence may be required to forfeiture their vehicle. At the very least, their vehicle may be impounded by the law enforcement jurisdiction which charged them with violations of state law.

This situation is not something you should navigate without legal representation like an experienced Arizona DUI lawyer like the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C. A person who is convicted of DUI may be ordered by the court, in addition to any other penalty imposed by law, shall order the motor vehicle owned and operated by the person at the time of the offense forfeited.

Also under Arizona law, law enforcement officers may impound a vehicle after an arrest for DUI, but only if any of the following factors are present:

  • A driver doesn't have a valid driver license, or has never had one;
  • A driver is involved in an accident without liability insurance and has no valid driver license;
  • A driver requiring an ignition interlock device (IID) doesn't have it installed on the vehicle;
  • A driver under the age of 21 has blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher that 0.00 percent; or
  • A driver is arrested the charge of extreme or aggravated DUI.

In Arizona, extreme DUI occurs when the BAC reaches 0.15 percent or more. The commission of an aggravated DUI has other factors involved, such a suspended driver's license, a minor being transported in the vehicle, or an accident has taken place.

Vehicles impounded under Arizona law must be stored for a period of 30 days before being released. The law allows for some exceptions, and you may be eligible to have the vehicle released sooner. For example, if your driver's license is reinstated by the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) or the courts, your vehicle may be released before the 30-day required hold period.

If you are unable to claim your vehicle from impound at the towing company which has a contract with the law enforcement agency making the DUI arrest there is a chance you may lose the vehicle. Under Arizona law, the towing company may file for an abandoned title and seek ownership of the vehicle if it is left unclaimed at the towing company yard for more than 10 days past the mandatory 30-day impoundment period. Should you have problems paying for towing and storage of your vehicle, you should contact the towing company to inform them that you wish to retain ownership.

A motor vehicle will not be impounded, according to state law, if the driver has met the financial responsibilities of the vehicle and his or her spouse is present, sober and can lawfully drive the vehicle. When there is a DUI and there are no aggravating circumstances, the car will not be impounded for the prescribed 30-day period.

The vehicle impoundment policies and procedures for municipal police departments are available on their Internet websites. The policies are prescribed by Arizona law and policies including hearing procedures that may be required in order to gain a release of the impounded vehicle.

With all of the potential repercussions of a driver's license suspension, plus an arrest and a conviction for DUI, it is vital that your legal situation should be handled by expert professionals with the experience possessed by the attorneys at the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C.

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