Can I Get My Vehicle Back After Seizure?

Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Can the police search my car without a warrant?”


Your vehicle is one of the most important necessities of life. You may need a vehicle to get to school or work, to drive family to appointments, to run errands, and more. Life is certainly more difficult and complicated when you do not have a car. Although you may have worked hard to get your car, it can be taken away by the police in a vehicle seizure. When that happens, you need to act quickly in order to try to get your vehicle back. An experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney can assist you in the process of how you may be able to get your car returned after a vehicle seizure.


Why Did Law Enforcement Seize My Vehicle?


The first and most important thing to find out is the reason police seized your vehicle. Depending on the reason and other factors, you may be able to get your vehicle back after it was seized. There are a number of reasons that law enforcement could have taken your vehicle. Some of the most common reasons for vehicle seizure include:


  • Charged with impaired driving with revoked license for impaired driving
  • Driving while impaired with no valid license and no insurance
  • Charged with felony speeding to elude police
  • Vehicle was used in connection with a crime


You may have an opportunity to claim your vehicle or request that law enforcement return it to you in some situations. Often, seizure of a vehicle is forfeiture, which means law enforcement may turn your vehicle over to the school board which will sell it.


Who Towed My Vehicle?


The State of North Carolina contracts towing and storage to qualified companies. You will likely owe the money paid for towing and storage costs. The first step is to find out where your vehicle is located. Contact the appropriate police department. You can contact the towing and storage company if you need to remove personal items from your vehicle. You must be able to prove that you are the owner of the vehicle and you cannot remove items that are part of the vehicle. It is important to note that even if you have to forfeit your vehicle, you may still be responsible for the payment of towing and storage fees.


Can I Get My Vehicle Back?


There are some circumstances that may allow you to get your vehicle back. If you were not the driver of the car and you can prove that you were innocent, you may get your vehicle returned to you. If you were the driver, you may get your vehicle back if you are found not guilty of the charges. As the owner who was not driving, you may prove your innocence in a number of ways such as showing that the driver did not have your permission to drive your car, that you did not know the driver had a revoked license, or the vehicle was stolen.


You might be able to get your vehicle back temporarily until your case is resolved in speeding to elude cases. You must meet specific requirements including posting a bond that is equivalent to the value of the vehicle. Please note that the police could sell your vehicle prior to your court date if the storage fees exceed the value of the vehicle. If you are found guilty of the charges, there will be a forfeiture hearing. The judge will make a determination as to whether to release the vehicle to the owner or lienholder.


Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC

If you are involved in a case where your vehicle was seized, you will want to do everything you can to get your car back as soon as possible. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our experienced attorneys can review the allegations or charges and guide you on how to best proceed. Please contact us today to get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.







The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights, and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.




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