Vehicle Seizures



This page is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. If you have any questions regarding your legal rights and remedies, you should consult an attorney licensed to practice law in North Carolina.

 

In North Carolina, a law enforcement officer must seize a motor vehicle if the driver is charged with an impaired driving offense AND if at the time of the offense, either (1) the driver’s license is already revoked as a result of a prior impaired driving offense OR (2) the driver is not validly licensed and is not covered by an automobile liability insurance policy. Motor vehicles are also seized if a driver is charged with felony speeding to elude arrest. (§ 20-28.3)

Under these circumstances, the law enforcement officer must seize the vehicle even if the driver is not the owner of the vehicle.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Where is my vehicle kept after it is seized by law enforcement?
  2. What will happen to my vehicle?
  3. How can I get my vehicle back if I believe that I should not be held responsible for the driver’s actions?
  4. How can I get my vehicle back if I am the owner, but was not driving?
  5. How can I get my vehicle back if I am the owner and the person charged with the impaired driving offense?
  6. How can I get the vehicle back if I am the lienholder?
  7. If the vehicle is released to me, am I required to pay the towing and storage costs?
  8. If the vehicle is released to me, how do I retake possession of it?
  9. My vehicle has been sold prior to the driver’s trial without a court order. What does this mean?
  10. How may I recover personal property that I left in the vehicle?
  11. What if the vehicle was damaged during the offense?

  1. Where is my vehicle kept after it is seized by law enforcement?

  • The vehicle will initially be towed to a local storage facility. In Forsyth County, vehicles are typically towed to Horn’s Garage which can be reached at 336-767-4660.
  •  At some point, usually within a few days, the vehicle will be towed to the facilities of a state contractor. Eastway Wrecker, based in Charlotte, serves the western part of the state, including Forsyth County. You may contact Eastway Wrecker by telephone at 704-393-3027.
  1. What will happen to my vehicle?

  • Based on certain factors, the court will either release the vehicle to the owner OR forfeit the vehicle to the local school board.
  • The vehicle could also be sold without a court order. These pretrial sales are discussed later (Click here for more information).
  1. How can I get my vehicle back if I believe that I should not be held responsible for the driver’s actions?

  • If you were listed in DMV records as the owner of the vehicle, but were not the driver of the vehicle at the time of seizure, you can regain the vehicle if you can demonstrate to the clerk’s office that you are “innocent.” There are five ways that you can demonstrate your innocence:
  1. You did not know and had no reason to know that the driver’s license was revoked OR you did not know and had no reason to know that the driver did not have both a valid license and liability insurance.
  2. You knew that the driver’s license was revoked or that the driver did not have a valid license and liability insurance, but the driver drove the vehicle without your permission and you filed a police report for unauthorized use of the vehicle and you have agreed to prosecute the driver.
  3. You reported the theft of the vehicle.
  4. You are in the business of renting vehicles and either the driver was not listed as an authorized driver on the rental contract OR the driver was listed, but you had no knowledge of the revocation of the driver’s license at the time the contract was entered.
  5. You are in the business of leasing motor vehicles, you held legal title to the motor vehicle as a lessor at the time of seizure, and you did not know the driver’s license was revoked at the time you entered into the lease agreement with the driver.
  • In addition to proving your innocence, there are other requirements you must satisfy in order for your vehicle to be released. (Click here for more information)
  • You must complete AOC form, AOC-CR-330A. Once this form is completed and filed with the clerk’s office, it will be reviewed. Contact the Criminal Records Division (336-779-6302) for more information.
  • In Forsyth County, you will also need to provide a FS1 form from your insurance company and the title or registration for the vehicle when filing your petition.
  1. How else can I get my vehicle back if I am the owner, but was not driving?

  • If you were listed in DMV records as the owner of the vehicle, but were not the driver at the time of seizure, you may post a bond equal to the fair market value of the vehicle for temporary release.
  • Posting a bond allows you to take possession of the vehicle temporarily until the next court hearing regarding the vehicle.
  • In addition to posting a bond, there are other requirements you must satisfy in order for your vehicle to be released. (Click here for more information)
  • You must complete AOC forms, AOC-CR-330A and AOC-CR-331A. Once these forms are completed and filed with the clerk’s office, it will be reviewed. Contact the Criminal Records Division (336-779-6302) for more information.
  • In Forsyth County, you will also need to provide a FS1 form from your insurance company and the title or registration for the vehicle when filing your petition.
  1. How can I get my vehicle back if I am the owner and the person charged with the impaired driving offense?

  • If you were listed as the owner of the vehicle in DMV’s records and the driver of the vehicle at the time of seizure, you can obtain permanent release of the vehicle if you can demonstrate that, at the time of the seizure, your license was not revoked for a prior impaired driving offense.
  • There are additional requirements you must satisfy in order for your vehicle to be released (Click here for more information).
  • You must complete AOC form, AOC-CR-333A. Once this form is completed and filed with the clerk’s office, it will be reviewed. Contact the Criminal Records Division (336-779-6302) for more information.
  • In Forsyth County, you will also need to provide a FS1 form from your insurance company and the title or registration for the vehicle when filing your petition.
  1. How can I get the vehicle back if I am the lienholder?

  • If you are the lienholder, you may secure the release of the vehicle if:
  1. you held a perfected security interest in the vehicle at the time of the seizure,
  2. the obligor is in default,
  3. as a result of the default, you are entitled to possession of the vehicle,
  4. you agree to sell the vehicle and pay in the clerk’s office the net sale proceeds and
  5. you agree not to sell, give, or otherwise transfer possession of the vehicle to the driver or the owner.
  • Click Here for more detailed information regarding the release of vehicles to lienholders.
  1. If the vehicle is released to me, am I required to pay the towing and storage costs?

  • You MUST pay all accumulated towing and storage charges to the company holding the vehicle before the company will release the vehicle to you. There are NO EXCEPTIONS to this requirement.
  • If the driver is convicted, the court may order the driver to repay you for the accumulated towing and storage costs.
  1. If the vehicle is released to me, how do I retake possession of it?

  • You must contact the company that is storing the vehicle to arrange a date and time to retrieve the vehicle.
  • The company will specify the items you need to bring with you to the storage site (i.e., photo ID, certified copy of the release order, and payment for towing /storage costs).
  1. My vehicle has been sold prior to the driver’s trial without a court order. What does this mean?

  • The State Surplus Property Office, through the state contractors, is authorized to sell the vehicle without a court order under certain circumstances in order to prevent the towing and storage costs from overtaking the value of the vehicle.
  • The contractors will pay the net proceeds of the sale into the clerk’s office. These proceeds will later be used to pay off any outstanding liens, with any remainder being released to the owner or forfeited to the school board just as the vehicle would otherwise have been.
  1. How may I recover personal property that I left in the vehicle?

  • Contact the company that is storing the vehicle. You can retrieve your personal property if you can provide sufficient proof to the company that you own the items.
  • You are not allowed to remove property that is affixed to the vehicle.
  1. What if the vehicle was damaged during the offense?

  • The DMV will instruct the insurance company to pay any insurance proceeds to the clerk’s office rather than to the policy holder. The proceeds will later be released or forfeited in the same manner as the seized vehicle.


State Law prohibits the Clerk’s Office staff from; providing any legal advice, providing instructions for completing forms, referring an attorney, or recommending specific ways to pursue legal action.

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