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46.61.50571  <<  46.61.5058 >>   46.61.506

RCW 46.61.5058

Alcohol violators — Vehicle seizure and forfeiture.

(1) Upon the arrest of a person or upon the filing of a complaint, citation, or information in a court of competent jurisdiction, based upon probable cause to believe that a person has violated RCW 46.20.740, 46.61.502, or 46.61.504 or any similar municipal ordinance, if such person has a prior offense within seven years as defined in RCW 46.61.5055, and where the person has been provided written notice that any transfer, sale, or encumbrance of such person's interest in the vehicle over which that person was actually driving or had physical control when the violation occurred, is unlawful pending either acquittal, dismissal, sixty days after conviction, or other termination of the charge, such person shall be prohibited from encumbering, selling, or transferring his or her interest in such vehicle, except as otherwise provided in (a), (b), and (c) of this subsection, until either acquittal, dismissal, sixty days after conviction, or other termination of the charge. The prohibition against transfer of title shall not be stayed pending the determination of an appeal from the conviction.

     (a) A vehicle encumbered by a bona fide security interest may be transferred to the secured party or to a person designated by the secured party;

     (b) A leased or rented vehicle may be transferred to the lessor, rental agency, or to a person designated by the lessor or rental agency; and

     (c) A vehicle may be transferred to a third party or a vehicle dealer who is a bona fide purchaser or may be subject to a bona fide security interest in the vehicle unless it is established that (i) in the case of a purchase by a third party or vehicle dealer, such party or dealer had actual notice that the vehicle was subject to the prohibition prior to the purchase, or (ii) in the case of a security interest, the holder of the security interest had actual notice that the vehicle was subject to the prohibition prior to the encumbrance of title.

     (2) On conviction for a violation of either RCW 46.20.740, 46.61.502, or 46.61.504 or any similar municipal ordinance where the person convicted has a prior offense within seven years as defined in RCW 46.61.5055, the motor vehicle the person was driving or over which the person had actual physical control at the time of the offense, if the person has a financial interest in the vehicle, the court shall consider at sentencing whether the vehicle shall be seized and forfeited pursuant to this section if a seizure or forfeiture has not yet occurred.

     (3) A vehicle subject to forfeiture under this chapter may be seized by a law enforcement officer of this state upon process issued by a court of competent jurisdiction. Seizure of a vehicle may be made without process if the vehicle subject to seizure has been the subject of a prior judgment in favor of the state in a forfeiture proceeding based upon this section.

     (4) Seizure under subsection (3) of this section automatically commences proceedings for forfeiture. The law enforcement agency under whose authority the seizure was made shall cause notice of the seizure and intended forfeiture of the seized vehicle to be served within fifteen days after the seizure on the owner of the vehicle seized, on the person in charge of the vehicle, and on any person having a known right or interest in the vehicle, including a community property interest. The notice of seizure may be served by any method authorized by law or court rule, including but not limited to service by certified mail with return receipt requested. Service by mail is complete upon mailing within the fifteen-day period after the seizure. Notice of seizure in the case of property subject to a security interest that has been perfected on a certificate of title shall be made by service upon the secured party or the secured party's assignee at the address shown on the financing statement or the certificate of title.

     (5) If no person notifies the seizing law enforcement agency in writing of the person's claim of ownership or right to possession of the seized vehicle within forty-five days of the seizure, the vehicle is deemed forfeited.

     (6) If a person notifies the seizing law enforcement agency in writing of the person's claim of ownership or right to possession of the seized vehicle within forty-five days of the seizure, the law enforcement agency shall give the person or persons a reasonable opportunity to be heard as to the claim or right. The hearing shall be before the chief law enforcement officer of the seizing agency or the chief law enforcement officer's designee, except where the seizing agency is a state agency as defined in RCW 34.12.020, the hearing shall be before the chief law enforcement officer of the seizing agency or an administrative law judge appointed under chapter 34.12 RCW, except that any person asserting a claim or right may remove the matter to a court of competent jurisdiction. Removal may only be accomplished according to the rules of civil procedure. The person seeking removal of the matter must serve process against the state, county, political subdivision, or municipality that operates the seizing agency, and any other party of interest, in accordance with RCW 4.28.080 or 4.92.020, within forty-five days after the person seeking removal has notified the seizing law enforcement agency of the person's claim of ownership or right to possession. The court to which the matter is to be removed shall be the district court when the aggregate value of the vehicle is within the jurisdictional limit set forth in RCW 3.66.020. A hearing before the seizing agency and any appeal therefrom shall be under Title 34 RCW. In a court hearing between two or more claimants to the vehicle involved, the prevailing party shall be entitled to a judgment for costs and reasonable attorneys' fees. The burden of producing evidence shall be upon the person claiming to be the legal owner or the person claiming to have the lawful right to possession of the vehicle. The seizing law enforcement agency shall promptly return the vehicle to the claimant upon a determination by the administrative law judge or court that the claimant is the present legal owner under this title or is lawfully entitled to possession of the vehicle.

     (7) When a vehicle is forfeited under this chapter the seizing law enforcement agency may sell the vehicle, retain it for official use, or upon application by a law enforcement agency of this state release the vehicle to that agency for the exclusive use of enforcing this title; provided, however, that the agency shall first satisfy any bona fide security interest to which the vehicle is subject under subsection (1)(a) or (c) of this section.

     (8) When a vehicle is forfeited, the seizing agency shall keep a record indicating the identity of the prior owner, if known, a description of the vehicle, the disposition of the vehicle, the value of the vehicle at the time of seizure, and the amount of proceeds realized from disposition of the vehicle.

     (9) Each seizing agency shall retain records of forfeited vehicles for at least seven years.

     (10) Each seizing agency shall file a report including a copy of the records of forfeited vehicles with the state treasurer each calendar quarter.

     (11) The quarterly report need not include a record of a forfeited vehicle that is still being held for use as evidence during the investigation or prosecution of a case or during the appeal from a conviction.

     (12) By January 31st of each year, each seizing agency shall remit to the state treasurer an amount equal to ten percent of the net proceeds of vehicles forfeited during the preceding calendar year. Money remitted shall be deposited in the state general fund.

     (13) The net proceeds of a forfeited vehicle is the value of the forfeitable interest in the vehicle after deducting the cost of satisfying a bona fide security interest to which the vehicle is subject at the time of seizure; and in the case of a sold vehicle, after deducting the cost of sale, including reasonable fees or commissions paid to independent selling agents.

     (14) The value of a sold forfeited vehicle is the sale price. The value of a retained forfeited vehicle is the fair market value of the vehicle at the time of seizure, determined when possible by reference to an applicable commonly used index, such as the index used by the department of licensing. A seizing agency may, but need not, use an independent qualified appraiser to determine the value of retained vehicles. If an appraiser is used, the value of the vehicle appraised is net of the cost of the appraisal.

[2013 2nd sp.s. c 35 § 18; 2009 c 479 § 38; 1998 c 207 § 2; 1995 c 332 § 6; 1994 c 139 § 1.]

Notes:

     Effective date -- 2009 c 479: See note following RCW 2.56.030.

     Effective date -- 1998 c 207: See note following RCW 46.61.5055.

     Severability -- Effective dates -- 1995 c 332: See notes following RCW 46.20.308.