What Happens to Your Vehicle After a DWI Arrest in Minnesota?

Forfeiture laws allow the government to seize property or assets that are used in a connection with a crime. Many people have a basic awareness of the concept of civil forfeiture. Though, these laws are more powerful than is commonly understood. In Minnesota, state authorities may even be able to seize and sell a vehicle after a drunk driving arrest. In this article, our Mankato DWI defense attorneys discuss the most important things you need to know about vehicle impoundment and forfeiture laws in Minnesota.


Under Minnesota law (Minnesota Statute § 169A.63), a motor vehicle used in the commission of certain intoxicated driving offenses may be subject to an administrative forfeiture. To be clear, forfeiture will not occur after every drunk driving arrest. Your automobile could be seized and/or forfeited if you are alleged to have committed any of the following intoxicated driving offenses:

  • A fourth time DWI offense;
  • A third time DWI offense in the last ten years;
  • A second time DWI offense, if occurring while a minor was in the vehicle; or
  • A second time DWI offense, if occurring with a BAC of .20 or greater.

It is worth emphasizing that vehicle forfeiture is a potential sanction in Minnesota. It is not necessarily a mandatory penalty. As such, it is possible that state authorities may not try to take your vehicle even if your offense fits into one of the aforementioned categories. Still, it is important to be prepared for the possibility of losing your car—and that is on top of losing your license and facing other serious criminal penalties.


Under Minnesota law, state authorities must send an official written notice when they seize an automobile after a drunk driving arrest. Specifically, this notice is called a ‘Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit Vehicle’. You are likely to receive it relatively shortly after your car is impounded by law enforcement. Once you receive this notice, you have 30 days to challenge the seizure and planned forfeiture. Otherwise, your car will be kept through the entire DWI proceedings—and if you are convicted, it will be sold.

Of course, protecting a vehicle from forfeiture is just one aspect of raising a larger legal defense. You also need to protect your rights, your reputation, and your freedom. An experienced Minnesota DWI defense attorney can help you build a comprehensive, focused legal defense to help you get the best possible outcome.


At Kohlmeyer Hagen, Law Office Chtd., our Minnesota DWI defense attorney is an aggressive, focused advocate for defendants. If you have questions about protecting your vehicle after a drunk driving arrest, we can help. Contact us at 507-200-8959 for a free, confidential consultation. Our law firm represents clients in Mankato and throughout Southern Minnesota, including in Fairmont, New Ulm, St. Peter, Rochester, and Worthington.

Put Our Solutions On Your Case Put Our Solutions On Your Case Put Our Solutions On Your CasePut Our Solutions On Your CasePut Our Solutions On Your CasePut Our Solutions On Your Case