§863. Procedure for seizure, forfeiture, and sale of vehicles used in illegal transportation of taxable articles
A. The secretary of the Department of Revenue is authorized in a summary proceeding, or by an action against the owner or operator of any automobile, truck, boat, conveyance, vehicle or other means of transportation other than a common carrier, used in the transportation of any article on which a tax is levied by this Chapter and on which the tax has not been paid in the manner provided in this Chapter, to demand the forfeiture and sale of the said automobile, truck, boat, conveyance, vehicle or other means of transportation used in the said illegal transportation and in violation of this Chapter.
B. In all cases where it is made to appear by affidavit, that the residence of the owner of the automobile, truck, boat, conveyance, vehicle or other means of transportation is out of the state, or is unknown to the secretary, the court having jurisdiction of the proceeding shall appoint an attorney at law to represent the said absent owner, against whom the said rule shall be tried contradictorily within ten days after the filing of the same. The affidavit may be made by the secretary, an assistant to the secretary, or by the attorney representing the secretary. The attorney appointed to represent the absent owner may waive service and citation of the petition or rule, but shall not waive time nor any legal defense. If upon the trial of the proceeding it is established by satisfactory proof that the automobile, truck, boat, conveyance, vehicle, or other means of transportation has been used to transport any article on which a tax is levied by this Chapter and upon which said tax has not been paid, that the owner of the automobile, truck, boat, conveyance, vehicle, or other means of transportation knew or should have known of the illegal transportation, and that the seizure was constitutional or that the seizure was made upon reasonable grounds to believe the seizure was constitutional, then the court shall render judgment accordingly, declaring the forfeiture of the automobile, truck, boat, conveyance, vehicle or other means of transportation, and ordering the sale thereof after ten days' notice by advertisement in the official parish paper where the seizure is made. The sale shall be made by the civil sheriff of the parish of Orleans, or by the sheriff of the parish in which the seizure is made, at public auction at the courthouse to the highest bidder for cash and without appraisal; it being the intent and purpose of these proceedings to afford the owner of said automobile, truck, boat, conveyance, vehicle or other means of transportation a fair opportunity for hearing in a court of competent jurisdiction. It is further the intent and purpose of these proceedings that the forfeiture and sale of the said automobile, truck, boat, conveyance, vehicle or other means of transportation shall be and operate as a penalty for the violation of this Chapter by illegal transportation; and the payment of the tax due on the article upon which a tax is levied by this Chapter at the moment of seizure or thereafter shall not operate to prevent, abate, discontinue, or defeat the forfeiture and sale of the property.
C. No mortgage, lien, privilege, or other security interest recognized under the laws of the state of Louisiana shall be affected by a forfeiture hereunder when the owner of such mortgage, lien, privilege, or other security interest is a financial institution regulated by an agency of the state or of the federal government, or is a bona fide holder of a repairman's privilege under R.S. 9:4501. No property shall be forfeited hereunder to the extent of the interest of an owner or security interest holder by reason of any act or omission established by him to have been committed or omitted without his knowledge or consent.
D. All funds collected from the seized and forfeited property shall be paid into the state treasury and credited to the general fund in the same manner as provided for the tax herein levied.
E. The court shall fix the fee of the attorney representing the owner when appointed by the court, at a nominal sum not to exceed ten per centum, to be taxed as costs and to be paid out of the proceeds of the sale of said property.
Amended by Acts 1958, No. 438, §5; Acts 1985, No. 101, §1, eff. June 29, 1985; Acts 1997, No. 658, §2.