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Nassau County Seizing Vehicles After DWI Arrests

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Nassau County police have started seizing vehicles of motorists arrested for DWI and holding them while the cases proceed through the courts.

For years, Nassau has sold vehicles at auction or reached financial settlements with banks or leasing companies that own them, but only after drivers were convicted.

Nassau County Seizing Vehicles After DWI Arrests

The county's attorney told Newsday that the new policy keeps the car available for forfeiture.

The policy calls for an administrative proceeding after a DWI arrest to determine whether the county can legally hold the vehicle until the case is settled.

Nassau County Seizing Vehicles After DWI Arrests

Officials said the new policy takes dangerous drivers off the road immediately and increases the county's likelihood of reaching financial settlements with drivers, WCBS 880's Mike Xirinachs reported.

In the past, Nassau returned vehicles to motorists after arrests, but by the time they were convicted, the driver's lease or financing agreement had expired. That prevented the county from reaching a monetary agreement.

Some Long Islanders are in favor of the new policy.

"I think it's great," a man told Xirinachs. "Get him off the road, take their car, hurt them in the pocket."

"If you are driving drunk, take your car away. You don't deserve to drive," another man said.

But defense attorneys, like Brian Griffin, said their clients are up in arms.

"Their thought is that 'I haven't been convicted of anything, how is this being done to me,'" Griffin told 1010 WINS' Mona Rivera.

Griffin predicts the policy will be overturned.

"What we're going to have to wait for is an appellate review of this issue," Griffin said.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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