Law will give citizens a fair chance to get confiscated vehicle returned in court
Rep. Marion O’Neill, R-Maple Lake, speaking at the bill signing ceremony in the governor’s office on April 3, 2017. Photo Courtesy of the Minnesota House of Representatives.
SAINT PAUL, MINN—On Monday, April 3, 2017, Governor Mark Dayton signed Senate File 151 into law, bipartisan civil forfeiture reform legislation authored by Representative Marion O’Neill, R-Maple Lake.
“For spouses or family members who did not know their vehicle would be used unlawfully, it is problematic for the state to confiscate it from them. This new law will give Minnesota citizens their right to a day in court to plead their case before a judge to have their property returned to them,” said Rep. Marion O’Neill. “I am grateful for the strong bipartisan support of this legislation and want to thank Governor Dayton for signing the bill into law.”
The bill allows an innocent joint owner of a seized vehicle to petition the court to have the vehicle returned to them. If someone is convicted of a DWI and has their vehicle taken from them, under current law and a 2009 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling, the co-owner of that car like a spouse or family member does not have legal standing in court, and all parties have lost rights to that vehicle. This change gives a co-owner the right to petition the court and demonstrate by the civil legal standard of clear and convincing evidence that they had no knowledge the vehicle would be used in this unlawful manner or reasonable steps were taken to prevent the use of the vehicle by the offender.