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

The Minnesota DWI Case of the Week is the Minnesota Supreme Court Case of  Patino v. One 2007 Chevrolet, (decided October 2, 2012) which stands for the proposition that in order to forfeit a vehicle pursuant to the Minnesota DWI forfeiture statute, the owner of the vehicle must first be convicted of the designated DWI criminal offense.


In Patino, the Defendant was charged with Second Degree DWI which gave rise to the forfeiture of his vehicle.  The Defendant was charged with Second Degree DWI because he had one prior DWI within ten years of the current offense and he also had a child in the vehicle at the time of the current offense.  The Defendant was allowed to plead guilty to Third Degree DWI (child endangerment) and then he sought the judicial return of his vehicle.

It was the Defendant’s position that since he had not been convicted of a designated forfeiture offense (i.e. Second Degree DWI) he was entitled to the vehicle’s return. The State, however, argued that although a conviction of a designated offense creates a presumption of judicial forfeiture, such a conviction is not required under the statute. Instead, the State claimed that section 169A.63, subdivision 9(f), prohibits forfeiture only if the driver is not convicted of any charge. 

The Minnesota Supreme Court (fortunately) rejected the State’s position and affirmed the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling which had ordered the return of the vehicle.  The Minnesota Supreme Court in its ruling noted:


“It is undisputed that respondent made a timely demand for a judicial determination under subdivision 8(f). Thus, the administrative proceeding under subdivision 8 was converted into a judicial proceeding under subdivision 9, and subdivision 9 governs the judicial forfeiture proceeding. 

Subdivision 9(f) provides that when forfeiture is based on the commission of a designated offense and the person charged with the designated offense appears in court as required and is not convicted of the offense, the court shall order the property returned to the person legally entitled to it upon that person’s compliance with the redemption requirements of section 169A.42. Minn. Stat. § 169A.63, subd. 9(f). Under subdivision 9(f), when a person charged with a designated offense appears in court and is not convicted of the designated offense, “the court shall order the property returned to the person legally entitled to it” provided that the redemption requirements of section 169A.42 are satisfied. The word “shall” has been interpreted as mandatory.”
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“It is certainly true that the burden of proof imposed upon the State for vehicle forfeiture is higher for a judicial forfeiture than for an administrative forfeiture. But it is within the province of the Legislature to provide for different standards for vehicle forfeiture in administrative and judicial proceedings. An administrative forfeiture under subdivision 8 requires only a showing that the vehicle was “used to commit a designated offense or used in conduct resulting in a designated license revocation . . . .” In contrast, judicial forfeiture under subdivision 9(f) provides that when the person charged with the designated offense “appears in court as required and is not convicted of the offense, the court shall order the property returned”.


The Minnesota Supreme Court in Patino therefore held that since the defendant had not been convicted of the designated forfeiture offense, he was entitled to the return of the vehicle.





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