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Repeat DUI offenders and the car seizure law in Illinois

People face fines, jail time, license suspension, license revocation, installation of ignition interlock devices, probation, and for repeat DUI offenders, even the loss of their vehicle.
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    December 06, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Facing a charge for driving under the influence has severe consequences in Chicago. People face fines, jail time, license suspension, license revocation, installation of ignition interlock devices, probation, and for repeat DUI offenders, even the loss of their vehicle.

According to the 2013 Illinois DUI Fact Book, one of the additional DUI penalties that a person convicted of more than one drunk driving charge faces is the seizure of their vehicle by law enforcement.

How the Illinois vehicle forfeiture statute works

According to DuPage County Bar Association's journal, when a person has a prior DUI conviction and is pulled over and arrested again for drunk driving while driving on a suspended license, the sheriff's department has the legal right to seize the person's vehicle. The authorities then can file a forfeiture action to permanently retain the vehicle. If the authorities prove their case, they can:
- Sell the vehicle at auction.
- Have the vehicle destroyed.
- Send the vehicle to a state agency to be reused.

If the vehicle is the only vehicle belonging to the family, and its loss would cause difficulties for the family, then the family has the right to ask for a spousal exception, which would allow the title of the vehicle to be transferred to the spouse or a family member.

Will County turning seized vehicles into law enforcement vehicles

One county is using the state vehicle seizure law to add vehicles to its fleet. The Sheriff's department for Will County is taking vehicles that have been paid off and turning them into law enforcement vehicles. According to Fox 32 News, the vehicles have the following message printed on the back of them stating "This vehicle was seized from a drunk driver."

The Will County Sheriff's Department says that the vehicles send a strong message to others of what can happen if they are arrested for DUI and are also driving with a license that has been revoked or suspended because of a previous DUI. One man, whose truck now belongs to the law enforcement agency, says that the law isn't fair. So far, the sheriff's department in Will County has three seized DUI vehicles.

Arguments over the constitutionality of the law

The DuPage County Bar Association journal argued a couple of years ago that the vehicle seizure law in Illinois was unconstitutional. The argument for this is not based on whether the state has the right to seize a vehicle but rather on the fact that the state's law does not clarify whether a hearing should be held before the forfeiture process is started. The hearing would provide the owner of the vehicle to object to the seizure and show why the vehicle should be returned to him or her.

When someone is arrested and charged with DUI, it is their right to be able to defend themselves from the charges. They should meet with an experienced attorney who can provide them with legal counsel on their case.

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