Feds Confiscate 40 Land Rovers Over VIN Controversy
Canada: Lawmakers Consider Seizing Cars Over Guns
Texas Motorist Wins $77,500 After Traffic Cops Steal Cash
Bermuda To Seize Cars Over Window Tint
Minnesota Legislature And Supreme Court Take On Car Seizures
View Main Topics:
Subscribe via RSS or E-Mail
Back To Front Page
8/15/2005New Federal Money for Highway Roadblocks and Seizures
Millions of federal tax dollars will be spent on highway roadblocks and vehicle seizures.
The "SAFETEA-LU" federal transportation funding measure signed into law last Wednesday provides millions of dollars for controversial enforcement measures including sobriety checkpoint roadblocks and now automobile seizures.
The law adds automobile impoundment and seizure to the list of acceptable "alcohol-impaired driving countermeasures" eligible for federal grant money, which amounted to $40 million in 2003. This allows states to fund driving under the influence (DUI)-related confiscation efforts entirely with federal tax dollars.
The DUI grant program began in 1988 as a result of lobbying by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The money is used to entice states to enact tough laws and conduct high-profile education campaigns against alcohol-impaired driving. In 1991, for example, the grants were used to compel states to reduce their legal intoxication standard from a blood alcohol level of 0.10 to 0.08.
Despite approval from the US Supreme Court, several state supreme courts including Michigan and Rhode Island have found drunk-driving roadblocks unconstitutional. An Albuquerque, New Mexico court recently found a DUI car seizure ordinance unconstitutional.
Excerpt from H.R. 3, signed into law August 10, 2005:
SEC. 2007. ALCOHOL-IMPAIRED DRIVING COUNTERMEASURES.
(a) Maintenance of Effort- Section 410(a)(2) of title 23, United States Code, is amended--
(1) by striking `under this section' and inserting `under this subsection'; and
(2) by striking `Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century' and inserting `SAFETEA-LU'.
(b) Revised Grant Authority- Section 410 of such title is amended--
(1) in subsection (a)--
(A) by striking paragraph (3);
(B) by redesignating paragraph (4) as paragraph (3); and
(C) in paragraph (3) (as so redesignated) by striking the second comma following `sixth';
(2) by redesignating subsections (e) and (f) as subsections (h) and (i), respectively;
(3) by striking subsections (b) through (d) and inserting the following:
`(b) Eligibility Requirements- To be eligible for a grant under subsection (a), a State shall--
`(1) have an alcohol related fatality rate of 0.5 or less per 100,000,000 vehicle miles traveled as of the date of the grant, as determined by the Secretary using the most recent Fatality Analysis Reporting System of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; or
`(2)(A) for fiscal year 2006 by carrying out 3 of the programs and activities under subsection (c);
`(B) for fiscal year 2007 by carrying out 4 of the programs and activities under subsection (c); or
`(C) for fiscal years 2008 and 2009 by carrying out 5 of the programs and activities under subsection (c).
`(c) State Programs and Activities- The programs and activities referred to in subsection (b) are the following:
`(1) CHECK POINT, SATURATION PATROL PROGRAM- A State program to conduct a series of high visibility, statewide law enforcement campaigns in which law enforcement personnel monitor for impaired driving, either through the use of sobriety check points or saturation patrols, on a nondiscriminatory, lawful basis for the purpose of determining whether the operators of the motor vehicles are driving while under the influence of alcohol--
`(A) if the State organizes the campaigns in cooperation with related periodic national campaigns organized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, except that this subparagraph does not preclude a State from initiating sustained high visibility, Statewide law enforcement campaigns independently of the cooperative efforts; and
`(B) if, for each fiscal year, the State demonstrates to the Secretary that the State and the political subdivisions of the State that receive funds under this section have increased, in the aggregate, the total number of impaired driving law enforcement activities at high incident locations (or any other similar activity approved by the Secretary) initiated in such State during the preceding fiscal year by a factor that the Secretary determines meaningful for the State over the number of such activities initiated in such State during the preceding fiscal year.
`(2) PROSECUTION AND ADJUDICATION OUTREACH PROGRAM- A State prosecution and adjudication program under which--
`(A) the State works to reduce the use of diversion programs by educating and informing prosecutors and judges through various outreach methods about the benefits and merits of prosecuting and adjudicating defendants who repeatedly commit impaired driving offenses;
`(B) the courts in a majority of the judicial jurisdictions of the State are monitored on the courts' adjudication of cases of impaired driving offenses; or
`(C) annual statewide outreach is provided for judges and prosecutors on innovative approaches to the prosecution and adjudication of cases of impaired driving offenses that have the potential for significantly improving the prosecution and adjudication of such cases.
`(3) TESTING OF BAC- An effective system for increasing from the previous year the rate of blood alcohol concentration testing of motor vehicle drivers involved in fatal accidents.
`(4) HIGH RISK DRIVERS- A law that establishes stronger sanctions or additional penalties for individuals convicted of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol whose blood alcohol concentration is 0.15 percent or more than for individuals convicted of the same offense but with a lower blood alcohol concentration. For purposes of this paragraph, `additional penalties' includes--
`(A) a 1-year suspension of a driver's license, but with the individual whose license is suspended becoming eligible after 45 days of such suspension to obtain a provisional driver's license that would permit the individual to drive--
`(i) only to and from the individual's place of employment or school; and
`(ii) only in an automobile equipped with a certified alcohol ignition interlock device; and
`(B) a mandatory assessment by a certified substance abuse official of whether the individual has an alcohol abuse problem with possible referral to counseling if the official determines that such a referral is appropriate.
`(5) PROGRAMS FOR EFFECTIVE ALCOHOL REHABILITATION AND DWI COURTS- A program for effective inpatient and outpatient alcohol rehabilitation based on mandatory assessment and appropriate treatment for repeat offenders or a program to refer impaired driving cases to courts that specialize in driving while impaired cases that emphasize the close supervision of high-risk offenders.
`(6) UNDERAGE DRINKING PROGRAM- An effective strategy, as determined by the Secretary, for preventing operators of motor vehicles under age 21 from obtaining alcoholic beverages and for preventing persons from making alcoholic beverages available to individuals under age 21. Such a strategy may include--
`(A) the issuance of tamper-resistant drivers' licenses to individuals under age 21 that are easily distinguishable in appearance from drivers' licenses issued to individuals age 21 or older; and
`(B) a program provided by a nonprofit organization for training point of sale personnel concerning, at a minimum--
`(i) the clinical effects of alcohol;
`(ii) methods of preventing second party sales of alcohol;
`(iii) recognizing signs of intoxication;
`(iv) methods to prevent underage drinking; and
`(v) Federal, State, and local laws that are relevant to such personnel; and
`(C) having a law in effect that creates a 0.02 percent blood alcohol content limit for drivers under 21 years old.
`(7) ADMINISTRATIVE LICENSE REVOCATION- An administrative driver's license suspension or revocation system for individuals who operate motor vehicles while under the influence of alcohol that requires that--
`(A) in the case of an individual who, in any 5-year period beginning after the date of enactment of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, is determined on the basis of a chemical test to have been operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or is determined to have refused to submit to such a test as proposed by a law enforcement officer, the State agency responsible for administering drivers' licenses, upon receipt of the report of the law enforcement officer--
`(i) suspend the driver's license of such individual for a period of not less than 90 days if such individual is a first offender in such 5-year period; except that under such suspension an individual may operate a motor vehicle, after the 15-day period beginning on the date of the suspension, to and from employment, school, or an alcohol treatment program if an ignition interlock device is installed on each of the motor vehicles owned or operated, or both, by the individual; and
`(ii) suspend the driver's license of such individual for a period of not less than 1 year, or revoke such license, if such individual is a repeat offender in such 5-year period; except that such individual to operate a motor vehicle, after the 45-day period beginning on the date of the suspension or revocation, to and from employment, school, or an alcohol treatment program if an ignition interlock device is installed on each of the motor vehicles owned or operated, or both, by the individual; and
`(B) the suspension and revocation referred to under clause (i) take effect not later than 30 days after the date on which the individual refused to submit to a chemical test or received notice of having been determined to be driving under the influence of alcohol, in accordance with the procedures of the State.
`(8) SELF SUSTAINING IMPAIRED DRIVING PREVENTION PROGRAM- A program under which a significant portion of the fines or surcharges collected from individuals who are fined for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol are returned to communities for comprehensive programs for the prevention of impaired driving.
`(d) Uses of Grants- Subject to subsection (g)(2), grants made under this section may be used for all programs and activities described in subsection (c), and to defray the following costs:
`(1) Labor costs, management costs, and equipment procurement costs for the high visibility, Statewide law enforcement campaigns under subsection (c)(1).
`(2) The costs of the training of law enforcement personnel and the procurement of technology and equipment, including video equipment and passive alcohol sensors, to counter directly impaired operation of motor vehicles.
`(3) The costs of public awareness, advertising, and educational campaigns that publicize use of sobriety check points or increased law enforcement efforts to counter impaired operation of motor vehicles.
`(4) The costs of public awareness, advertising, and educational campaigns that target impaired operation of motor vehicles by persons under 34 years of age.
`(5) The costs of the development and implementation of a State impaired operator information system.
`(6) The costs of operating programs that result in vehicle forfeiture or impoundment or license plate impoundment.
`(e) Additional Authorities for Certain Authorized Uses-
`(1) COMBINATION OF GRANT PROCEEDS- Grant funds used for a campaign under subsection (d)(3) may be combined, or expended in coordination, with proceeds of grants under section 402.
`(2) COORDINATION OF USES- Grant funds used for a campaign under paragraph (3) or (4) of subsection (d) may be expended--
`(A) in coordination with employers, schools, entities in the hospitality industry, and nonprofit traffic safety groups; and
`(B) in coordination with sporting events and concerts and other entertainment events.
`(f) Allocation- Subject to subsection (g), funds made available to carry out this section shall be allocated among States that meet the eligibility criteria in subsection (b) on the basis of the apportionment formula under section 402(c).
`(g) Grants to High Fatality Rate States-
`(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary shall make a separate grant under this section to each State that--
`(A) is among the 10 States with the highest impaired driving related fatalities as determined by the Secretary using the most recent Fatality Analysis Reporting System of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; and
`(B) prepares a plan for grant expenditures under this subsection that is approved by the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
`(2) REQUIRED USES- At least one-half of the amounts allocated to States under this subsection may only be used for the program described in subsection (c)(1).
`(3) ALLOCATION- Funds made available under this subsection shall be allocated among States described in paragraph (1) on the basis of the apportionment formula under section 402(c), except that no State shall be allocated more than 30 percent of the funds made available to carry out this subsection for a fiscal year.
`(4) FUNDING- Not more than 15 percent per fiscal year of amounts made available to carry out this section for a fiscal year shall be made available by the Secretary for making grants under this subsection.'; and
(4) by adding at the end of subsection (i) (as redesignated by paragraph (2)) the following:
`(4) IMPAIRED OPERATOR- The term `impaired operator' means a person who, while operating a motor vehicle--
`(A) has a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher; or
`(B) is under the influence of a controlled substance.
`(5) IMPAIRED DRIVING RELATED FATALITY RATE- The term `impaired driving related fatality rate' means the rate of alcohol related fatalities, as calculated in accordance with regulations which the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shall prescribe.'.
(c) NHTSA To Issue Regulations- Not later than 12 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shall issue guidelines to the States specifying the types and formats of data that States should collect relating to drivers who are arrested or convicted for violation of laws prohibiting the impaired operation of motor vehicles.