This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).


Jeffrey Michael Hurst,


1994 Ford Probe,
License 582-KFH,

Filed January 11, 2000
Harten, Judge

Dakota County District Court
File No. C9-99-6580

James R. Loraas, Loraas & Loraas, 201 West Burnsville Parkway, Suite 136, Burnsville, MN 55337 (for appellant)

Kevin W. Eide, Grannis & Hauge, P.A., 200 Town Center Professional Building, 1260 Yankee Doodle Road, Eagan, MN 55121-2201 (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Amundson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


Appellant Jeffrey Michael Hurst challenges a district court order denying his motion for return of his motor vehicle that the state seized and held for forfeiture in connection with a DWI offense. He argues that the police failed to furnish proper notice of the seizure, thus violating his statutory and due process rights. Because we see no statutory or due process violations, we affirm.


On January 16, 1999, a police officer stopped appellant's car because it was swerving. When the officer approached the car, he noticed that appellant smelled of alcohol, his eyes were bloodshot, and his speech was slurred. The officer testified that appellant "completely lost his balance, [and fell] over two separate times" when performing a field sobriety test; he also failed a preliminary breath test. The officer arrested appellant for driving under the influence of alcohol.

The state seized and held for forfeiture appellant's car, a 1994 Ford Probe, because of his previous alcohol-related violations. At the time of the arrest, the arresting officer did not serve appellant with a notice of seizure and intent to forfeit his vehicle pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 169.1217 (1998). Within two weeks of the incident, however, the arresting officer made four unsuccessful attempts to serve appellant with notice at his home address.

Appellant filed for judicial determination of forfeiture, challenging the seizure of his vehicle and arguing insufficient notice under both Minn. Stat. § 169.1217, subd. 7a, and the due process clauses of the state and federal constitutions. On March 23, 1999, appellant received via certified mail the state's notice of seizure and intent to forfeit. The district court denied appellant's challenge of the seizure. This appeal followed.


The district court based its order on the construction of a statute, which is a question of law and thus fully reviewable by an appellate court. Hibbing Educ. Ass'n v. Public Employment Relations Bd., 369 N.W.2d 527, 529 (Minn. 1985). Appellant contends the district court erred in not ordering the return of his vehicle because the police did not furnish proper notice of forfeiture, thus violating his statutory rights under Minn. Stat. § 169.1217, subd. 7a, (1998), and his due process rights under the United States and Minnesota Constitutions.

1. Minn. Stat. § 169.1217, subd. 7a (1998)

Minn. Stat. § 169.1217, subd. 7a (1998), provides,

[w]hen a motor vehicle is seized * * * the appropriate agency shall serve the driver or operator of the vehicle with a notice of the seizure and intent to forfeit the vehicle.

Appellant argues that "shall" means that the state must immediately serve notice of forfeiture on the defendant at the time of the arrest and seizure. But this section also provides,

Notice mailed by certified mail to the address shown in department of public safety records is sufficient notice to the registered owner of the vehicle.

Id. Because this section allows service by certified mail, at-the-scene service is not mandatory. Moreover, Minn. Stat. § 169.1217, subd. 2 (1998), provides:

A motor vehicle subject to forfeiture * * * may be seized without process if * * * the seizure is incident to a lawful arrest. * * * If property is seized without process * * * the prosecuting authority must institute a forfeiture action under this section as soon as is reasonably possible.

The record indicates that: (1) within two weeks of the incident, the police made four unsuccessful attempts to serve appellant at his home address, (2) not later than February 12, 1999, appellant had actual notice of the state's intent to forfeit, and (3) on March 23, 1999, appellant received by certified mail the notification of seizure and intent to forfeit the vehicle.

Accordingly, we conclude that appellant was lawfully arrested, his vehicle was seized, and the state provided him with notice of forfeiture within a reasonable time. The district court did not err in denying appellant the return of his vehicle.

2. Due Process

Appellant also argues that seizure of his property violates his due process rights under the state and federal constitutions. Due process requires that notice and an opportunity for a hearing precede deprivation of property. Humenansky v. Minnesota Bd. of Med. Examiners, 525 N.W.2d 559, 565 (Minn. App. 1994), review denied (Minn. Feb. 14, 1995). As stated above, appellant received lawful notice before he forfeited the vehicle; there is no error.

3. Fees, Costs, and Disbursements

Finally, appellant argues the district court erred in denying his motion for fees, costs and disbursements. Because the forfeiture was proper, appellant is not entitled to fees, costs, or disbursements.