Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Minnesota DWI Lawyer Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota Case of the Week is the published decision of Mycka v. One 2003 GMC Envoy Automobile (decided June 15, 2010).

Mr. Mycka was arrested for driving while impaired (DWI) and due to his previous driving record, the City of Fridley sought the forfeiture of his 2003 GMC Envoy.

The city seized the vehicle after Mycka was released from jail and after he had retrieved his vehicle from a private towing company.  Mr. Mycka then challenged in district court the city's seizure on the ground that, without process issued by a court, the city was not authorized to seize the vehicle from him.  The district court denied the claim, but on appeal, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the district court and ordered the vehicle returned to Mr. Mycka.

If a law enforcement agency does not obtain process issued by a court, the agency may, in the alternative, seize a motor vehicle subject to forfeiture pursuant to any of the following three exceptions:

(1)   the seizure is incident to a lawful arrest or a lawful search;

(2)  the vehicle subject to seizure has been the subject of a prior judgment in favor to the state in a criminal injunction or forfeiture proceeding under this section; or

(3)  the appropriate agency has probable cause to believe that the delay occasioned by the necessity to obtain process would result in the removal or destruction of the vehicle.

In the present case, the City of Fridley sought to justify the forfeiture seizure without court process by claiming that the vehicle was seized, "incident to a lawful arrest".

The Minnesota Court of Appeals rejected the City's position, stating:

"Ultimately, this case can be resolved on the simple ground that the seizure occurred so late in time.  The city did not initiate the administrative seizure of Mycka's vehicle while Mycka still was under arrest.  Mycka was released from detention, and he retrieved his vehicle from Shorty's Towing.  Not until the following day--approximately 36 hours after his arrest and approximately 24 hours after his release from the county jail--did the city's police officers seize Mycka's vehicle from his residence.  There was a clear break in time between the arrest and the seizure.  These facts compel the conclusion that the city did not seize Mycka's vehicle 'incident to' his arrest, as required by section 1679A.63, subdivision 2(b)(1).

Moral of the Story:  He Who Hesitates Is Lost!!

F.T. Sessoms, Minnesota DWI Attorney, Minnesota DUI Lawyer, Minneapolis DWI Attorney, Minneapolis DUI Lawyer

F.T. Sessoms, Minnesota DWI Lawyer