This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).







Kristi Lannette Foley,





One 1995 Warrior Motorboat,

VIN: POUJ6550F495, Registration No. 8376 GX,




Filed January 11, 2005

Affirmed; motion granted

Toussaint, Chief Judge


Hubbard County District Court

File No. C3-03-649



Thomas William Jakway, 1805 Woodlane Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125 (for respondent)


Gregory D. Larson, Hubbard County Attorney, Hubbard County Courthouse, 301 Court Street, Park Rapids, MN 56470 (for appellant)



            Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge; Shumaker, Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge

On appeal from an order entered in a driving while intoxicated (DWI) forfeiture proceeding, the state argues that the district court erred in returning a motorboat and its trailer to respondent, one of two registered co-owners.  We affirm.


On July 10, 2003, Timothy Ruiz was arrested after police found him operating a 1995 Warriormotorboat while he had a blood alcohol concentration of .10 or more.  Ruiz co-owned the motorboat with his former girlfriend, respondent Kristi Foley.  The state subsequently seized the motorboat and its trailer and initiated forfeiture proceedings pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 169A.63 (2002).   

Foley later filed a demand for a judicial determination, seeking return of the seized items.  Following a hearing, the district court found that Foley was a registered owner of the items, was solely responsible for payment of the items, and “did not know of Ruiz’s unlawful use or intended use of the boat in question.”  See Minn. Stat. § 169A.63, subd. 7(d) (2002) (stating that vehicle is subject to forfeiture “only if its owner knew or should have known of the unlawful use or intended use”).  Consequently, the district court ordered the state to return the motorboat and trailer to Foley without storage fees or towing costs.  The state appeals.




We first address Foley’s motion to strike page A-17 of the state’s appendix.  The record on appeal consists solely of “[t]he papers filed in the [district] court, the exhibits, and the transcript of the proceedings, if any.”  Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 110.01.  Accordingly, this court will generally “grant a motion to strike material submitted in a party’s appendix when that material did not come before the [district] court.”  Cressy v. Grassmann, 536 N.W.2d 39, 43 (Minn. App. 1995), review denied (Minn. Sept. 28, 1995).  But see Podvin v. Jamar Co., 655 N.W.2d 645, 648 (Minn. App. 2003) (allowing publicly available records not presented to district court to be included in record on appeal).  Because page A-17 is not part of the district court record and is not a publicly available document, we grant Foley’s motion to strike.


            Next, we address Foley’s argument that trailers are not subject to forfeiture under Minn. Stat. § 169A.63 (2002).  “Statutory construction is a question of law, which this court reviews de novo.”  Stanton v. Mazda 2001 VIN 4F2YU08121KM57063, 660 N.W.2d 137, 139 (Minn. App. 2003).  When interpreting a statute, the initial inquiry is whether the statute’s language is clear or ambiguous.  Id.  “A statute is not ambiguous unless the language used is subject to more than one reasonable interpretation.”  Id. (quoting American Family Ins. Group v. Schroedl, 616 N.W.2d 273, 277 (Minn. 2000)).  If a statute is unambiguous, further construction is neither necessary nor permitted.  Minn. Stat. § 645.16 (2002).

The forfeiture statute provides that a “motor vehicle” is subject to forfeiture if it is used in the commission of a designated offense.  Minn. Stat. § 169A.63, subd. 6.  A “motor vehicle” includes “every vehicle that is self-propelled and every vehicle that is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires . . . includ[ing] motorboats in operation and off-road recreational vehicles, but . . . not . . . a vehicle moved solely by human power.”  Minn. Stat. § 169A.03, subd. 15 (2002).  This language is not ambiguous.  Therefore, because the definition of a motor vehicle does not include trailers, we conclude that the trailer was improperly seized.  Accordingly, the district court did not err in returning the trailer to Foley.


Finally, we address the state’s argument that the district court erred in returning the motorboat to Foley under the “innocent owner” defense.  According to the state, because there are two registered owners of the motorboat, Ruiz’s one-half interest should have been forfeited.  We disagree.

When interpreting statutory language, the goal is to “ascertain and effectuate the intention of the legislature.”  Minn. Stat. § 645.16.  “Minnesota courts have repeatedly held that the legislature intended vehicle forfeiture under Minn. Stat. § [169A.63] to serve the important, non-punitive, remedial goal of enhancing public safety by separating repeat intoxicated drivers from the instrumentality used to commit criminal actions.”  Schug v. Nine Thousand Nine Hundred Sixteen Dollars & Fifty Cents in U.S. Currency, 669 N.W.2d 379, 384 (Minn. App. 2003), review denied (Minn. Dec. 16, 2003); see also Lukkason v. 1993 Chevrolet Extended Cab Pickup, 590 N.W.2d 803, 806 (Minn. App. 1999); review denied (Minn. May 18, 1999).  Furthermore, the legislature clearly intended to protect innocent owners from forfeiting their vehicle when they were unaware that it would be used for illegal purposes.  See Minn. Stat. § 169A.63, subd. 7(d) (2002) (stating that vehicle is subject to forfeiture “only if its owner knew or should have known of the unlawful use or intended use”). 

We conclude that the legislature’s intent is served by returning the motorboat to Foley.  Public safety is enhanced because Ruiz will no longer have access to the motorboat, and Foley, an innocent owner,[1] is not unduly punished for actions that were beyond her knowledge and control.  Furthermore, there is no statutory basis for the state’s assertion that it should be awarded a one-half interest in the motorboat simply because it has two registered owners.  See Genin v. 1996 Mercury Marquis, 622 N.W.2d 114, 117 (Minn. 2001) (stating that “[w]hen a question of statutory construction involves a failure of expression rather than an ambiguity of expression, courts are not free to substitute amendment for construction and thereby supply the omissions of the legislature”) (quotation omitted)).  Therefore, we conclude that the district court did not err in returning the motorboat to Foley based on the innocent owner defense.     

            Affirmed; motion granted.

[1] At the forfeiture hearing, Foley testified that (1) since November 2002, she has had no contact with Ruiz and has obtained a restraining order against him, (2) she was not aware that Ruiz was operating the motorboat on July 10, 2003, and (3) she was not aware that Ruiz would be consuming alcoholic beverages that day.  This evidence is sufficient to support the district court’s conclusion that Foley is an “innocent owner” pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 169A.63, subd. 7(d).