Drug-related vehicle forfeitures

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
If a vehicle is used in a drug-related crime, either directly or indirectly, it can be confiscated by the police. This policy applies to motor vehicles, boats, planes, or any other vehicle used in connection with a drug crime. In most cases the authorities seize the vehicle when the owner is arrested for the drug violation. A vehicle owner can appeal confiscation by requesting a special hearing, but the appeal time is generally short. This hearing is separate from any other hearing in connection with the case. In some cases, a vehicle's owner may claim that the vehicle was used without his or her knowledge or consent, and if this is shown to be so, the vehicle can be returned to the owner. However, if the forfeiture is found to be justified, the title of the vehicle is transferred to the government. If there's a lien on the vehicle, the lienholder can make a claim for the vehicle. In most cases, the vehicle is sold by the government through public auction. Vehicle forfeiture laws differ among states and are controversial in some jurisdictions, where vehicles can be confiscated even if the owner is subsequently acquitted of the drug-related crime that originally motivated the forfeiture.
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