Title 31
Motor and Other Vehicles

Chapter 27
Motor Vehicle Offenses

R.I. Gen. Laws § 31-27-4.3

§ 31-27-4.3. Forfeiture of motor vehicle.

(a) Any motor vehicle including, but not limited to, cars, trucks, vessels, or motorcycles, which has been or is being used in violation of § 31-27-4.1, may be seized and upon conviction forfeited; provided, that no motor vehicle as enumerated in this section used by any person shall be forfeited under the provisions of this chapter unless it shall appear that the owner of the vehicle had knowledge, actual or constructive, and was a consenting party to the alleged illegal act.

(b)(1) The motor vehicle taken or detained under this section shall not be repleviable, but shall be deemed to be in the custody of the law enforcement agency making the seizure. Whenever a motor vehicle is forfeited under this chapter it shall be retained and utilized by the law enforcement agency that seized the vehicle where the use of the vehicle is reasonably related to the law enforcement duties of the seizing agency. If the seized vehicle is inappropriate for use by law enforcement agency for reasons including, but not limited to, style, size, or color, the seizing agency shall be allowed to apply the proceeds of sale or the trade-in value of the vehicle towards the purchase of an appropriate vehicle for use for activities reasonably related to law enforcement duties.

(2) As to the proceeds from the sale of the property under subdivision (1) of this subsection, the distribution shall be as follows:

(i) All proceeds of the forfeiture of the motor vehicle shall be distributed as follows: all costs of advertising administrative forfeitures and costs for any damage to any state or municipal vehicles which occurred as a result of the high speed pursuit shall first be deducted from the amount forfeited. Of the remainder, eighty percent (80%) of the proceeds shall be divided among the state and local law enforcement agencies proportionately based upon their contribution to the investigation of the criminal activity related to the asset being forfeited, and twenty percent (20%) of the proceeds shall be provided to the state victims’ indemnity fund.

(ii) Each state or local law enforcement agency shall be entitled to keep the proceeds from sales of forfeited vehicles. The funds shall be used for law enforcement purposes. The funds received by a state law enforcement agency shall be maintained in a separate account by the general treasurer. The funds received by a local law enforcement agency shall be maintained in a separate account by the local agency’s city or town treasurer.

(c) Each law enforcement agency making any seizure(s) which result(s) in a forfeiture pursuant to this section shall certify and file with the state treasurer between January 1 and January 30 an annual report detailing the vehicle or money forfeited during the previous calendar year and the use or disposition of the property or money. The report shall be made in the form and manner that may be provided or specified by the treasurer and the annual law enforcement agency reports as provided in this subsection shall be provided to the local governmental body governing the agency and to the house and senate judiciary committees.

(d) Any law enforcement agency whose duty it is to enforce the laws of this state is empowered to authorize designated officers or agents to carry out the seizure provisions of this chapter. It shall be the duty of any officer or agent so authorized or designated or authorized by law, upon or by means of which any violation of this chapter has taken place or is taking place, to seize the vehicle and to place it in the custody of the person who is authorized or designated for that purpose by the respective law enforcement agency pursuant to those provisions.

History of Section.
P.L. 1997, ch. 193, § 3.