Government Finally Returns Seized Car — Damaged and Eight Months Late
|January 9, 2007||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Government Seizures of Private Property
After 19 Months, Government Finally Returns Seized Car — Damaged
Here is a news announcement on the idiotic implementation of “forfeiture” laws — this update comes from the American Civil Liberties Union.
NEW YORK– The first car confiscated under New York City’s much-publicized, zero-tolerance policy on drunken driving has been returned to its owner — eight months after charges were dropped.
According to the AP, Pavel Grinberg, 29, a Russian immigrant with no previous arrests for driving while intoxicated (DWI), was charged on February 21, 1999, the first day of the city’s drunken-driving initiative. The policy, billed the toughest in the nation, allowed for the seizure of cars of drivers who have a blood alcohol content higher than 0.10 percent — the legal limit for drivers.
A test showed Grinberg’s blood alcohol level at 0.11, slightly over the legal limit, police said. His 1988 Acura was impounded. But in January, almost a year later, a judge threw out the case against Grinberg after prosecutors admitted his arrest had been riddled with errors and sloppiness and one of his arresting officers was charged with perjury in another drunken-driving case. The officer, Terrance Orr, 34, pleaded guilty the next month.
Under the anti-drunken driving policy, even if a suspect was acquitted of criminal charges, the driver still must go to civil court to get the car back.
The police department refused to release Grinberg’s car until last week. Then, it sent him a letter saying the car would be sold at auction if he didn’t reclaim it right away.
On Monday, Grinberg and his lawyer, New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Norman Siegel, picked up the car at an auto pound. The NYCLU has challenged the drunken-driving impoundment law as unconstitutional. Grinberg, who hadn’t seen the car in 19 months, hopped behind the steering wheel. The car wouldn’t start because the engine was dead.
Since the beginning of the initiative more than 2,000 cars have been seized pending the outcomes of their drivers’ trials.
For more information, contact the ACLU at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit their WWW site at www.aclu.org
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