Suffolk County isn't far from Newburgh as the crow flies, but it's about 140 miles to the Long Island county when you drive.
Two Suffolk County drivers are contesting the county's seizure of their vehicles following DWI incidents there.
In one case, a woman has filed a lawsuit in federal court in which she contends the county violated due process by hanging on to her pick-up truck after her then-boyfriend was arrested for driving while intoxicated in the vehicle.
According to her lawsuit, county officials "systematically, deliberately and continuously" failed to follow the law in hearings held to determine if they had reason to keep her vehicle.
She says after an administrative hearing, county officials refused to return the truck. Instead, they asked questions such as, "What do you need a truck for?"
Even after she obtained a court order requiring the county to give her back her property, she found that more than $5,000 in damages had taken place to it while it was in Suffolk's possession.
She recently asked the court to allow her case to be combined with a similar suit pending against Suffolk. In that case, a man who was arrested for DWI and later convicted had his 2003 Ferrari confiscated by county officials.
He admitted to taking 13 prescribed medications as well as consuming alcohol before driving. He was later convicted of a second DWI as well.
Though a judge in his case said he's "not the most sympathetic plaintiff, to put it mildly," the judge also noted that due process protects everyone, even repeat DWI offenders.
The county argues in his case that it was justified in taking and keeping the vehicle and that it hasn't violated his rights to due process.
Source: Thomson Reuters News & Insight: "Suffolk County faces new challenge to car seizures," April 13, 2012
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