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Can my vehicle be seized for DUI in Tennessee?
Yes. In Tennessee, you can actually LOSE YOUR VEHICLE for Driving Under the Influence. The requirements are very specific. If you are convicted of two DUI offenses, that occurred within 5 years of each other, and one of them was committed on or after January 1, 1997, your vehicle is subject to forfeiture.
One of the requirements is that “only POST certified” police officers (commissioned by the State of Tennessee) can initiate a forfeiture warrant under this section.
The purpose of this statute was intended to be “remedial measures” and NOT punishment. The intent of the forfeiture statute of a vehicle after a second or subsequent DUI is to prevent “unscrupulous or incompetent persons” from driving on Tennessee’s highways while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Below I have quoted the actual TCA code on this issue. It is found at TCA 55-10-403(k).
(k) (1) The vehicle used in the commission of a person’s second or subsequent violation of § 55-10-401, or the second or subsequent violation of any combination of § 55-10-401, and a statute in any other state prohibiting driving under the influence of an intoxicant, is subject to seizure and forfeiture in accordance with the procedure established in title 40, chapter 33, part 2. The department of safety is designated as the applicable agency, as defined by § 40-33-202, for all forfeitures authorized by this subsection (k).
(2) In order for subdivision (k)(1) to be applicable to a vehicle, the violation making the vehicle subject to seizure and forfeiture must occur in Tennessee and at least one (1) of the previous violations must occur on or after January 1, 1997, and the second offense after January 1, 1997, occurs within five (5) years of the first offense occurring after January 1, 1997.
(3) It is the specific intent that a forfeiture action under this section shall serve a remedial and not a punitive purpose. The purpose of the forfeiture of a vehicle after a person’s second or subsequent DUI violation is to prevent unscrupulous or incompetent persons from driving on Tennessee’s highways while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs endangers the lives of innocent people who are exercising the same privilege of riding on the state’s highways. There is a reasonable connection between the remedial purpose of this section, ensuring safe roads, and the forfeiture of a motor vehicle. While this section may serve as a deterrent to the conduct of driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is nonetheless intended as a remedial measure. Moreover, the statute serves to remove a dangerous instrument from the hands of individuals who have demonstrated a pattern of driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
(4) Only P.O.S.T.-certified or state-commissioned law enforcement officers will be authorized to seize these vehicles under this section.