Plate Impoundment - Spouse's Vehicle

A DWI in Minnesota brings many collateral consequences, such as a lengthy loss of license, potential vehicle forfeiture, and plate impoundment. If your vehicle is subject to a plate impoundment, that means you will be driving with ‘whiskey plates’ for the duration of your revocation period. While not terribly expensive, it is still a collateral consequence that is both embarrassing and cumbersome to deal with.

One of the most frequent questions we get about the plate impoundment process is – what vehicles are subject to it? You may be surprised to learn that the impoundment order is not limited to just the vehicle driven at the time of the incident. It extends to all vehicles registered in the driver’s name, including vehicles in which the driver is a co-owner. For many people, this leads to the regrettable result of the significant other’s vehicle needing whiskey plates when couples buy vehicles in both of their names. It can extend even to kids vehicles when the parent who picks up a DWI is the person that bought their child’s vehicle. Needless to say, the burden and impact stemming from a DWI is far-reaching.

After we answer this question, the next question almost instinctively is – can we remove my name from the registration so that my wife/kid don’t need to get whiskey plates? Short answer: No.

Vehicles subject to a plate impoundment can only be transferred in an arms-length transaction – i.e. a legitimate one with a real sales price (not $1) – and to non-family or household members. The sale must also be approved by the State. And any violation of a plate impoundment order is a separate misdemeanor crime.

Plate impoundment orders can be challenged, but must be done so in a timely and prompt manner. This is another reason why it is critical to hire an attorney to counsel you through a DWI case because the collateral consequences, like a license plate impoundment, can have a greater impact on you than the actual DWI.