Law limits car forfeiture after drunk driving

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Minnesotans will have a chance to keep their vehicle after someone else is convicted of drunk driving in it.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill into law Monday, April 3, protecting an innocent vehicle owner when someone else uses it without permission or knowledge. Existing law allowed the vehicle to be forfeited even if the owner was not the driver.

"This reform reflects the important balance between public safety and the rights of innocent vehicle owners," Dayton said, adding the new law provides fairness.

Rep. Marion O'Neill, R-Maple Lake, said she brought the bill because the government taking vehicles hurt others who needed transportation.

"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," O'Neill said. "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."

She said that at times the seized vehicle could be the only available one for a family.

Minnesotans forfeited 6,722 vehicles in 2015.