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Defendant Contests Car Being Taken During DWI Arrest

The plaintiff in this matter is Christine Malafi, who is County Attorney for Suffolk County in the state of New York. The defendants in the matter are Zachary G. Moisan and a 1967 Chevy that has the VIN number 125177G120642. The case is being heard in the Supreme Court of the state of New York located in Suffolk County. Judge Arthur G. Pitts is hearing the case.

This case involves a civil forfeiture proceeding. The plaintiff and claiming authority in the matter, Christine Malafi, the Suffolk County Attorney, seeks a forfeiture of a 1967 Chevy that is owned by the defendant, Zachary G. Moisan.

Case Facts

The defendant, Zachary G. Moisan, was arrested on the 23rd of June, 2006 for driving under the influence of alcohol (DWI). He was transported to Huntington Hospital at the time of his arrest and submitted to a blood test. His blood alcohol level was determined to be at 0.19%.

Prior to this arrest, the defendant had been convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol on the 11th of January, 1984. He was convicted of driving while intoxicated at this time.

Based upon the arrest in June of 2006 and his prior conviction in January of 1984, his car was taken pursuant to Chapter 270, Article IV, of Suffolk County Code. On the 26th of October, 2006, the defendant pled guilty to driving while intoxicated and was sentenced to sixty days in jail.

Court Discussion and Determination

Chapter 270 of the Suffolk County Code states that any property that precedes an offense shall be taken by any peace officer acting in regard to his/her specific duties. It also states that a police officer may seize the property if there is probable cause to believe that an offense has occurred. The property is considered forfeited if this occurs.

The agency that seizes the property must notify the titled owner of the property. This includes any registrants that are on file with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. The notification will inform the owner of the property that there will be a hearing in regard to the matter that will be held in front of a neutral Magistrate.

The neutral Magistrate will review all of the documents of the case that support the arrest of the individual as well as any testimony that is provided. The neutral Magistrate will then determine if the seizing agency has made a full burden of proof in the matter.

The defendant was notified to appear before the court in regard to the matter on the third of July, 2006. He failed to make an appearance. As a result of his failure to appear, the neutral Magistrate, Harry E. Seidell determined that Suffolk County was entitled to keep the vehicle in their possession.

After carefully reviewing the facts of the case the court has determined that the plaintiff and claiming authority, Christine Malafi, the County Attorney for Suffolk County will be granted the right to obtain a forfeiture of the vehicle from the defendant. The motion for summary judgment as made by the defendant is denied.

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