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Vehicle Forfeiture: Where Does The Money Go?

Dayton DUI Attorney Charles Rowland > DUI Law  > DUI Process  > Vehicle Forfeiture: Where Does The Money Go?

Vehicle Forfeiture: Where Does The Money Go?

vehicle forfeiture

Have you ever wondered where the money goes following a vehicle forfeiture?

Does your police agency have some really cool sports cars, tricked out SUVs or ruggedly expensive off-road vehicles?  Chances are they got it via Ohio’s vehicle forfeiture law.  Pursuant to R.C. 4503.234(C)(1), the agency that arrested a defendant has a virtual right of first refusal on any forfeited vehicle.  All they have to do is satisfy the lienholder or the innocent non-owners interest if they have protected their interest in the vehicle.

If law enforcement does not want the vehicle it will be sent to auction.  Prior to the sale the prosecuting attorney must give public notice of the proposed sale.  See R.C. 4503.234(C)(2).  At the public auction, the vehicle is sold to the highest bidder – cash only!  R.C. 4503.234(C)(2)  Interestingly, if the “blue book” value of the vehicle is under $2,000.00 the court is authorized to dispose of it in any manner it deems appropriate. R.C. 4503.234(G).


  • When the vehicle is sold the money goes to the following people:
  • to the costs associated the the seizure, storage, maintenance, security, and sale;
  • to the value of any non-owner interest established in the vehicle;
  • any remaining proceeds up to $1,000.00 to the law enforcement trust fund [R.C. 2933,43(D)(1)(c) and (2)];


Whatever proceeds are left after that go to the following people:


  • 50% to the reparation fund [R.C. 2743.191];
  • 25% to the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Fund [R.C. 4511.191(F)(2)(e)]; and
  • 25% to the law enforcement trust fund [R.C. 2981.13]

The law has two particularly ugly provision relating to passengers.  If you are a passenger in a vehicle and you knew or should have known that the driver was impaired you cannot get reparations for your injuries proximately caused by the driver.  See R.C. 2743.191 as amended by SB 153.   No compensation will be paid to a passenger under the influence who should have reasonably known, if that passenger would have been sober, that the driver was under the influence. R.C. 2743.06(B).

As you can see from the priority list above, the law enforcement agency benefits more when an expensive vehicle is forfeited.  Usually, we call this policing for profit when the property is targeted by police so that they can reap a benefit.  Unlike drug forfeitures, however, a vehicle forfeiture in an Ohio OVI case are caused by the actions of the accused driver not by motivated policing.

Much of the vehicle forfeiture information provided herein is set forth at Ohio DUI Law, Weiler & Weiler, 2013-2014 ed.


Attorney Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver in the Miami Valley and throughout Ohio.  He has the credentials and the experience to win your case and has made himself Dayton’s choice for drunk driving defense. Contact Charles Rowland by phone at (937) 318-1384 or toll-free at 1-888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263). If you need assistance after hours, call the 24/7 DUI Hotline at (937) 776-2671.  You can have DaytonDUI at your fingertips by downloading the DaytonDUI Android App or have DaytonDUI sent directly to your mobile device by texting DaytonDUI (one word) to 50500.  Follow DaytonDUI on Facebook, @DaytonDUI on Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Pheed and Pintrest or get RSS of the Ohio DUI blog.  You can email CharlesRowland@DaytonDUI.com or visit his office at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324.  “All I do is DUI defense.”

For information about vehicle forfeiture contact me, or check these city-specific sites at the following links:

FairbornDaytonSpringfieldKetteringVandaliaXeniaMiamisburg, Huber HeightsOakwoodBeavercreekCenterville


Charles Rowland


Charles M. Rowland II has been representing the accused drunk driver for over 20 years. Contact him at (937) 318-1384 if you find yourself facing a DUI (now called OVI) charge.

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