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Can Chicago Police Seize Your Vehicle after a DUI Arrest?

Posted by Dominick R. Dolci | Sep 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

There are rumors or claims that your vehicle will be seized by the Chicago police after you are arrested for a DUI. These so-called rumors have some truth to them. To clarify when the police may seize your vehicle (as opposed to having a sober friend or family member drive the vehicle home or impounding it), here's what you should know.

When can the police in Illinois seize your vehicle after a DUI arrest?

A seizure and forfeiture of your vehicle are allowed when it is in accordance with Illinois law. The following DUI or DUI-related crimes can become the subject of a seizure and forfeiture:

  • felony DUI;
  • driving while suspended – if the suspension is due to a DUI statutory summary suspension; or
  • driving while revoked – if the revocation is due to a previous DUI conviction.

Apart from DUI crimes, your vehicle can also be seized and forfeited after you have been arrested and charged with one of the following DUI-related driving offenses:

  • aggravated fleeing and eluding;
  • leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury;
  • leaving the scene of an accident involving death; or
  • reckless homicide.

There are other crimes, too, not related to DUI or driving a vehicle, that can result in the permanent taking of your vehicle.

What can you do about a seizure and forfeit of your vehicle in Illinois?

If a complaint about seizure and forfeiture has been made, there are possible defenses. Some situations that may help you prevent the permanent taking of your vehicle are described in the below examples.

Example 1: Sole Source for Family's Transportation

If you are married and your spouse is the owner of the seized and forfeited vehicle, you can show that the vehicle is the only means of transportation for your family and the loss of it would be a great hardship that overshadows the purpose of the seizure.

Example 2: Co-owner Not Culpable

If the vehicle has a co-owner and that co-owner can show he or she had no knowledge of any criminal activities on the part of you, the owner, and is otherwise not culpable in any way, then the co-owner may be able to get the seized and forfeited vehicle back.

Example 3. Vehicle Not Used in Commission of the Alleged Crime

If it can be shown that the vehicle was not in fact used during the commission of the alleged crime, then the vehicle cannot be the subject of a seizure and forfeiture and must be returned – so, if you were charged with a felony DUI and your DUI attorney at Dolci & Weiland subsequently proves you were not driving under the influence, then if the vehicle was seized, it must be returned.

Before the State of Illinois can forfeiture a vehicle, it must make sure any lender has been paid. In circumstances where the value of the vehicle is well below the remaining loaning, the State may return the vehicle to the owner. 

The Key Takeaway

So, in Illinois, you can have your vehicle seized after a DUI arrest, but only if the charge is one of the above-stated. Fortunately, in Illinois, most DUIs are not felonies, so you won't have to worry about your vehicle being permanently taken by the state, but you may have to worry about getting your vehicle back after being impounded.

If you have questions about your DUI or need strong representation, contact Dolci & Weiland today.

About the Author

Dominick R. Dolci

Managing Partner Dominick R. Dolci focuses his practice on criminal defense litigation and civil litigation. Dom graduated from John Marshall law school in 1990. He began his legal training in the Cook County States Attorneys Office where he worked at 26th and California. He then transferred ...


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