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What Is License Plate Impoundment in Minneapolis, MN?

In Minnesota, the state has the authority to take the license plate off a motor vehicle and destroy them. License plate impoundment is an administrative sanction and can be imposed quickly, in most cases at the time of the arrest. Typically, the officer orders the vehicle towed and the plates are removed. If this happened to you, you may have a lot of questions, and the DWI Attorneys Minneapolis at Gerald Miller can help you get the answers.

The violator is subject to plate impoundment if he or she has had one or more qualified impaired driving violations within the past ten years, refuses to take an alcohol test or through other aggravating factors. Plate impoundment may be triggered for driving a motor vehicle after cancellation, revocation, or suspension of the person’s driver’s license. It is also important to note that plate impoundment applies to the vehicle used in the incident even if the offender does not own it.

How License Plate Impoundment Works in Minneapolis and MN

There are two ways impoundment could occur. The specifics will depend on which entity orders the impoundment of the license plates. One option is known as administrative review. Administrative review is a process initiated by the Department of Public Safety. The second option is a judicial

Administrative Review in MN

A person who has received an impoundment order may request an administrative review by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) of the impoundment order at any time during the period of impoundment. The request for review must be made in writing. The DPS will review the order and the evidence to determine whether sufficient cause exists to sustain the order. The DPS must decide, in writing, whether to sustain or rescind the order within 15 days of receiving the request for review.

Judicial Review in MN

A petition for a judicial review of an impoundment order must, among other things, be served and filed within 30 days of the issuance of the impoundment order. The petition must contain the petitioner’s name, address, date of birth and license plate number. Additionally, the petitioner must include details of the stop and specific grounds for which the rescission of the impoundment order is being sought. Exact compliance with the statute is mandatory.

The registrar of motor vehicles will re-issue regular plates for the vehicle subject to the impoundment order if:

  1. The driver’s license revocation that is the basis for the impoundment order is rescinded;
  2. The charges for the plate impoundment violation are dismissed with prejudice;
  3. The violator has been acquitted of the plate impoundment violation

What Can Trigger License Plate Impoundment in Minneapolis?

There are many circumstances that could trigger the impoundment of a license plate. Typically, this action is tied to an arrest for DWI. However, that is not the only circumstance that will lead to the impoundment of license plates. Some examples include:

  • Two DWIs within a 10-year period
  • A DWI with a BAC of .16 or above
  • The refusal to submit to a breath test
  • Driving after the cancelation of a license
  • Arrest for DWI or refusal with a minor child in the car
  • Other factors deemed necessary by a judge

It is important to note that the grounds for impounding plates are more open-ended with judicial review compared to administrative review. While an administrative review is limited to certain grounds, a court can order the impoundment of a license plate whenever a judge deems it appropriate.

What Are Whiskey Plates?

When a driver loses their license plates, they are not completely without options. The state offers a form of restricted plates that are commonly referred to as “whiskey” plates. This term stems from the look of these plates. Typically, these restricted plates include a license number that begins with the letter “W.” Over time, these plates earned the name “whiskey” plates based on the presence of the letter “w” and the use of the term “whiskey” to describe the letter in the military phonetic alphabet. In addition to the “W”, the plates also include a series of four numbers and letters. These plates stand out on purpose, as they are intended to identify drivers with restricted plates to other motorists as well as the police.

In fact, the state previously enforced a law that allowed the police to pull over motorists with whiskey plates at any time. This statute specifically allowed law enforcement to execute a police stop in order to ensure that the driver was lawfully able to drive. Eventually, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that this type of stop was unconstitutional.

Judicial Review of Impoundment in Minnesota

If you have had your plates impounded by the state, you do have some recourse for securing the return of your license plates. This is possible through a process known as judicial review.

You have the right to ask a judge to review the circumstances of your impoundment. However, you have a limited window of time to do so. You must request a judicial review within 30 days of the impoundment order or you will lose your chance to do so in the future.

It is not enough to simply request the courts to undo the order of impoundment. According to the law, you must lay out specific reasons why the initial impoundment order should be reversed.

One situation where judicial review could be successful is when the owner of the vehicle was not the person arrested under suspicion of DWI. By establishing to the court that they were not involved in the DWI in any way, a judge could agree to reverse to order of impoundment.

You will only have one opportunity to pursue judicial review following the wrongful impoundment of your license plates. Given this limited opportunity, it could be in your best interest to let an attorney assist you in these efforts. The DWI defense lawyers of Gerald Miller are ready to advise you of your options and assist with your case.

Should I Contact DWI Attorneys Minneapolis?

License plate impoundment is only one of the possible consequences following a DWI arrest. You could also face the prospect of incarceration, costly fines, or the suspension of your driving privileges.

It is helpful to remember that these consequences only take effect if you are convicted of DWI. You have the right to fight back against a criminal conviction, and our firm is ready to help you do just that. The attorneys of Gerald Miller could assist you with developing the strongest defense strategy possible under the circumstances.

License plate impoundment is complicated and extremely time-sensitive. Having an experienced attorney by your side is therefore critical to contesting any license plate impoundment issue. Gerald Miller PA has defended thousands of DWI-related cases throughout the past 35 years. Contact us today at 612-440-4608 for a free consultation.

Related Content: A Minneapolis DUI Defense Lawyer Talks: How to Avoid Whiskey Plates After a DWI?

About the author

Gerald Miller

Gerald Miller is a top-notch and experienced DWI/DUI lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. in Minneapolis, MN. He has more than 35 years of experience in Criminal Defense practice. He has also been a mentor to numerous DUI/DWI defense attorneys.

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