Forfeiture of Vehicles Following an Arrest

In the late 1990s the City of New York announced that it intended to confiscate any automobile that was driven by anyone arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The Criminal Defense Special Litigation Unit filed litigation on behalf of thousands of vehicle owners to establish the right to a prompt hearing before a neutral magistrate to determine whether the vehicle should be impounded by the Police Department. In a series of appeals we won the right to a hearing and are now litigating to establish a process for cases in which the prosecution wants to hold the vehicle as evidence in a pending criminal case. We recently filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of the United States which argues that protecting the due process rights of people who have their property seized can work in a fair way that does not impede the administration of justice in the criminal case.