On January 17, the Minnesota Supreme Court granted review of an important DWI forfeiture case that the Minnesota Court of Appeals decided in favor of the vehicle’s owner. The case is Laura Patino v. One 2007 Chevrolet.
In October 2011, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the court must order the return of the seized vehicle if the alleged offender appears in court and is not convicted of the alleged DWI offense triggering the initial forfeiture (usually First or Second Degree DWI/Test Refusal). The Court of Appeals decision resolved the long-standing confusion arising when defendants were charged with First or Second Degree DWI/Test Refusal and appeared in court and were convicted of a lesser degree of DWI/Test Refusal by plea bargain or trial.
The Supreme Court’s grant of review now means that the Court of Appeals decision is no longer binding authority due to the Court’s further review. It likely will take six to twelve months before the Supreme Court issues a final decision in this appeal.