Vehicles Seized Under County Law
The following information is provided as a guide to the vehicle seizure process. Exceptions may be made by the County Attorney’s office at the vehicle owner or their attorney’s request.
My vehicle was seized because of a DWI (or speed contest, unlicensed contractor, 509/511), what happens now?
You will receive a NOTICE OF SEIZURE AND HEARING from the County Attorney’s Office. This letter will tell you the day and time you need to appear for a hearing regarding the seizure. This is a civil action apart from any criminal proceedings in District Court. A decision will be made as to whether or not your vehicle will be returned to you.
This letter usually arrives within 10-20 days of the arrest and is mailed to the address on file with DMV. If you have changed your address & not notified DMV you may not receive the letter. These procedures are followed even if the vehicle owner was not the vehicle operator at the time of the seizure. You or your representative should attend this hearing. If no one attends the hearing the County Attorney will assume you have no interest in the vehicle and will begin Default Judgment proceedings.
If you cannot attend the hearing on the assigned date you must submit a hearing date change in writing to the County Attorney’s Office. Their address is included in the letter.
If you did not receive a letter write to:
Suffolk County Dept. of Law
H. Lee Dennison Bldg.,
6th Floor 100 Veterans Memorial Highway
P.O. Box 6100
Hauppauge, NY 11788
I want to cancel my insurance, how do I get my plates?
Typically the license plates will not be returned to you. We recommend you wait until after the seizure hearing before you consider cancelling your insurance. Canceling your insurance without returning the license plates may result in your license or your privilege to operate a motor vehicle being suspended. If your vehicle is returned to you at the seizure hearing your plates will be on your vehicle when you claim it from the impound yard. In the event the court process is extended and/or you are not claiming the vehicle we will provide you with a plate letter at the direction of the County Attorney’s Office. This letter is to be submitted to DMV in lieu of the license plates. We will only prepare this letter at your request. We do not automatically send plate letters. We can only prepare plate letters for vehicles that are actually in our custody. If the vehicle arrived without plates, we do not prepare a plate letter. If the vehicle is still at the precinct we cannot prepare a plate letter until after the vehicle arrives in Westhampton.
Do I have to pay any fees?
Yes. You will have to pay a tow fee of $250 day rate & $275 night rate plus $5 per/mile, 30 Admin fee and storage fees of $30 per business day beginning with the day the vehicle was seized, up to and including the day the vehicle is released. Fees are payable by CASH ONLY for the EXACT amount. We cannot make change & do not accept personal checks. You should call our office to make an appointment for pickup and confirm the amount due. Fees are due regardless of who was driving the vehicle at the time of the seizure.
When can I get my vehicle back?
We cannot return a seized vehicle without written authorization from the County Attorney’s Office. Please follow all their instructions in the stipulation paperwork. If you delay returning the stipulation paperwork you will delay the return of your vehicle.
I cannot afford to pay the fees, what happens to my vehicle?
On occasion a vehicle owner will be unable to afford the fees. If this is your situation you may sign the title over to the County and we will dispose of the vehicle according to the law. You will not be responsible for any fees associated with the seizure if you sign the title over to the County.
Vehicles not claimed within a reasonable period of time will be auctioned or scrapped, depending on their condition; regardless of whether you do or do not sign the title over to the county.
What do I need to claim my vehicle?
You will need to provide proof of ownership, two (2) licensed drivers, and proof of insurance. Please see earlier section for instructions regarding proof of ownership & license requirements. You also need proof of insurance.
509/511 vehicle seizures require insurance regardless of whether the vehicle is towed or driven from the impound yard.