Vehicle Forfeiture Under Vehicle Code § 14607.6
San Diego Forfeiture Attorneys
An individual that is caught driving on a suspended license can have their vehicle deemed a nuisance and forfeited to the state if they have a prior conviction for unlicensed driving.
Vehicle code 14607.6 gives our government a lot of power for protecting our highways. One of these powers is the ability to take your car and sell it.
Before the state can forfeit your vehicle, you are entitled to a judge hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to take the vehicle or whether there are other factors that favor allowing the owner to keep the vehicle.
Facts Required to Forfeit the Vehicle
The government must prove 3 facts. First, that the vehicle was driving on a California highway. Second, that at the time of driving, the driver was unlicensed or his/her driving privilege was suspended or revoked. Lastly, the government must show that the driver is a registered owner and has already been convicted of driving as an unlicensed driver (Veh. Code § 12500) or knowingly driving on a suspended license (Veh. Code §§ 14601, 14601.1, 14601.2, 14601.3, 14601.4 or 14601.5) at least one time before.
This proceeding is not a true criminal proceeding but is called a civil forfeiture and the government need only prove by a preponderance of the evidence instead of the higher proof beyond reasonable doubt standard you hear of so often for criminal cases. This means that the proof requirement is relatively low.
Preventing a Vehicle Forfeiture
While the government’s attorneys seek to take the vehicle the judge is the ultimate decider and in some situations is required to release the vehicle and in other situations is not required because the vehicle is only subject to forfeiture.
When the vehicle is registered or owned by husband & wife, the judge may be required to release the vehicle if the following facts are shown. First, that the vehicle is owned by a person other than the driver and second, that the vehicle is the only one available to the driver’s immediate family.
A judge is allowed to take into account other equitable factors when determining whether to forfeit a vehicle. Some of these include: circumstances of the stop/arrest, whether the driver has a valid license at the time of the hearing, hardship caused to the family if forfeited and the ability of the driver to pay the owner should the vehicle be forfeited.
Vehicle forfeiture hearings are evidentiary in nature. Witnesses are called, documents are submitted and other testimony is elicited.
Both the government and owner (ie claimant) are allowed to present their case to the judge. Having an attorney prepare and present your side will increase the chances of the car being returned.
Learn More …
If you or your loved one are facing a vehicle forfeiture, contact one of our attorneys for a free consultation. Talk one-on-one with a vehicle forfeiture expert today.
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