If you're like many people, your vehicle may be the most valuable possession you own. Losing it could interrupt your life in a very significant way and make even the most routine tasks incredibly difficult.
Unfortunately, a drunk driving charge can put your vehicle in jeopardy under certain circumstances:
When you are charged with a felony
Under the Code of Criminal Procedure in Texas, police have the ability to seize contraband that they believe was used in connection with a high-level felony. This is known as a civil forfeiture law and the police have this power even when someone hasn't been convicted of a crime!
While highly controversial, civil forfeiture laws are in use throughout much of the United States. They came into being largely as a result of efforts to fight drug crimes. However, they can also be invoked by law enforcement whenever anyone is charged with a third incident of driving while intoxicated (DWI).
"Contraband" is any property used in connection with the alleged crime -- like your vehicle. The police can seize the vehicle you were driving immediately. If you are ultimately convicted, they can sell the vehicle and take the proceeds.
Your vehicle is towed for safety reasons
If there's nobody available to drive your car home when you're arrested for DWI, your car will be towed to a secure lot and locked away. You can't retrieve it until you pay the cost of the tow and the daily storage fee.
The tow and just one night of storage can sometimes amount to several hundred dollars! Worse, the fees continue to accrue until you remove your car. If you are unable to pay the fees, the owner of the lot will eventually seek to permanently deprive you of ownership so that the vehicle can be sold, and your debt paid.
These are just some reasons that it's important to protect your rights after a DWI arrest. Aggressive representation can often help you get your life back on track quickly.