The consequences of a DWI can prove significant and life-changing, but a conviction does not automatically subject you to the loss of your vehicle. However, there are several situations which may ultimately result in your losing ownership of your car, including repeat DWI convictions and the presence of any evidence in the car. Even if you maintain ownership of your vehicle, your conviction may result in the denial of your ability to freely operate it as you wish. In any case, a Austin DWI attorney can help.
Held for Evidence
Pursuant to a DWI arrest, law enforcement agents may decide to hold your vehicle for evidence. This is particularly true if you were involved in an accident subsequent to the arrest. Upon examination of the accident scene and the automobile, law enforcement agents may assert that damage to the vehicle or the condition of the car is evidence to be used in any criminal prosecution stemming from the automobile accident. If this determination is made, the state may seize your car for the duration of any criminal proceedings.
Officers may also seize your vehicle in situations where contraband is found inside of the car. During a DWI arrest, law enforcement may search or inventory the contents of the car. If culpatory evidence is found inside, law enforcement may choose to seize the car in addition to whatever items were located inside of it.
Towing and Storage Fees
Another way that a DWI can lead to the loss of your automobile is a situation where your car is towed pursuant to arrest. This generally occurs when there is no sober party available to drive your car after your arrest. Law enforcement will arrange for towing of your auto to a storage lot, where it will sit until you retrieve it. However, the cost of the tow is passed on to you, along with storage fees. Additionally, each day that your car remains in storage, you are charged an additional fee. These fees can add up over time and you may find yourself in a situation where you are unable to pay them. After a set amount of time with no payment, the storage company may place a lien on the car. If you are still unable to satisfy the debt, you may lose ownership of your vehicle.
A Felony DWI
Under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, law enforcement can seize contraband under suspicion that it was used or involved in some type of serious criminal activity. Contraband is personal, real or intangible property that was used in the commission of a first or second degree felony. The statute allows for seizure of property used in violation of the Texas DWI statute, when the offender has three convictions. Under this definition, a DWI third will subject the involved vehicle to a contraband forfeiture by law enforcement. Once law enforcement has your vehicle, they can use it or sell it for the agency’s profit.
Ignition Interlock Device
Though you may keep your car after your DWI arrest, you may still be faced with restrictions on your ability to use it. The courts may order the placement of an ignition interlocking device on your vehicle to prevent you from driving while under the influence of alcohol. You must blow into a breathalyzer before driving the car. The vehicle will not turn on if the presence of alcohol is detected.
Though vehicle loss is not an automatic part of a DWI conviction, there are several scenarios that may result in a loss of your vehicle. If you are facing DWI charges, protect your freedom and your property by contacting the Austin DWI lawyers at Buford & Gonzalez. We possess the knowledge and experience to provide you with an aggressive defense.