Can I Sell or Lease a Vehicle After a Drunk Driving Arrest?

First Offense Drunk Driving

Individuals who have been arrested for a first offense Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) or Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) are free to sell, buy or lease a vehicle. 

If you have a second alcohol related offense, however, the assistance of an attorney is necessary. 

Second Offense Drunk Driving 

As a starting point, Michigan law permits license plate confiscation for people arrested for a second drunk driving offense within seven years, or a third offense within a lifetime. At the time of the arrest, the police take the metal plate and replace it with a paper plate that remains in effect until the resolution of the case.

Can You Sell Your Vehicle or Lease a New Vehicle After a Second Arrest for Drunk Driving? 

Individuals who have been charged with a second offense of drunk driving are able to obtain a new plate when they turn in a leased vehicle or sell their vehicle, but it will require a court order. 

Under Michigan law (MCL 257.233[4]), during the time a vehicle is subject to a temporary registration plate, vehicle forfeiture, immobilization, or registration denial, the owner of the vehicle is not permitted to transfer or assign the title or an interest in the vehicle without a court order. 

This also means that after a second offense drunk driving, an individual cannot sign their vehicle over to a family member without first obtaining a court order. Even if a court grants an order, the family member is still unable to purchase the car. Therefore, any transfer requires a court order. 

Under Michigan law (257.219[3]), the Secretary of State (SOS) shall not issue a registration for the vehicle if a temporary registration plate was issued under Michigan law. This is until the violation resulting in the plate’s issuance is examined, or the vehicle transfers to a person who is subject to payment of the use tax under section 3 and use tax code. Typically, this occurs when the registration is up for renewal (the title holder’s birthday), but cannot be renewed due to the paper plate’s issuance.

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It’s important to note that the paper plate is valid until the case has been adjudicated. However, this will also impact you and your family if you are successful in persuading a court to allow a transfer to a family member.  That family member will not be able to receive a metal plate until the case is adjudicated.

Multiple Offenses

Even if the vehicle can be transferred, it may not be possible to buy another vehicle at all if you have been arrested after multiple offenses. Under MCL 257.219(4), you will not be able to have any vehicle licensed in your name if your driver’s license is suspended, denied, or revoked because of a third offense or greater. The only exception is if you are in the sobriety court ignition interlock program. Therefore, it is important to consider all of the ramifications of transferring the title of a vehicle during an open case.

Contact our team of experienced DUI attorneys today if you need assistance in this complex process.