Code of the District of Columbia

§ 25–911. Seizure and forfeiture of alcoholic beverages and vehicles for which taxes have not been paid.

(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of § 25-803, if the taxes levied and imposed on alcoholic beverages by this chapter which have not been paid as required by this chapter, such alcoholic beverages shall be declared contraband goods and shall be forfeited to the District in accordance with the procedure set forth in this section. The Mayor may seize any such alcoholic beverages wherever they are found.

(b) If the Mayor has knowledge or reason to suspect that a vehicle is carrying alcoholic beverages or contains any alcoholic beverages in violation of the regulations contained in this title concerning the importation of alcoholic beverages, the Mayor may stop the vehicle and inspect it for alcoholic beverages on which the taxes levied and imposed by this chapter have not been paid. If such alcoholic beverages are found, the alcoholic beverages and the vehicle shall be declared contraband goods, shall be seized, and shall be forfeited to the District; provided, that the following vehicles shall not be subject to forfeiture under this section:

(1) A vehicle used by a person as a common carrier in the transaction of business as a common carrier, unless it appears that the owner or other person in charge of the vehicle was a consenting party or privy to the violation on account of which the vehicle was seized.

(2) A vehicle that is subject to seizure and forfeiture under this section by reason of an act committed or omission established by the owner thereof, which act was committed or omitted by any person other than the owner while the vehicle was unlawfully in the possession of a person other than the owner, in violation of the criminal laws of the United States, the District, or any other state.

(c) All property which is seized under subsection (a) or (b) of this section shall be placed under seal or removed to a place designated by the Mayor. A libel action in the name of the District property shall be prosecuted against the property in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia by the Attorney General for the District of Columbia. Unless good cause is shown to the contrary, the property shall be forfeited to the District.

(d) The property shall not be subject to replevin, but shall be deemed to be in the custody of the Mayor, subject only to the orders, decrees, and judgments of the court.

(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, if the property is subject to seizure and forfeiture on account of failure to comply with the provisions of this title and the Mayor determines that the failure was excusable, the Mayor may return the property to the owner.

(f) If the Mayor determines that any property seized is liable to perish or become greatly reduced in price or value by keeping the property until the completion of forfeiture proceedings, the Mayor may:

(1) Appraise the property and return it to the owner thereof upon the payment of any tax due under this chapter and receipt of a satisfactory bond in an amount equal to the appraised value, which bond may be used to satisfy the final order, decree, or judgment of the court; or

(2) If the owner neglects or refuses to pay the tax and provide the bond, sell the property in the manner provided by the Mayor by regulation and pay the proceeds of the sale, after deducting the reasonable costs of the seizure and sale, to the court to satisfy its final order, decree, or judgment.

(g) After the final order, decree, or judgment is made, forfeited property shall be sold in the same manner as personal property seized for the payment of District taxes. The proceeds of the sale shall be deposited in the General Fund of the District of Columbia. If there is a bona fide prior lien against the forfeited property, the proceeds of the sale of the property shall be applied in the following priority:

(1) the payment of any tax due under this chapter and all expenses incident to the seizure, forfeiture, and sale of the property;

(2) the payment of the lien; and

(3) the remainder shall be deposited with the D.C. Treasurer; provided, that no payment of a lien shall be made if the lienor was a consenting party or privy to the violation of this title for which the property was seized and forfeited. To the extent necessary, liens against forfeited property shall, on good cause shown by the lienor, be transferred from the property to the proceeds of the sale of the property.