Can they impound and classify my vehicle as contaminated without any evidence or arrest.

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Can they impound and classify my vehicle as contaminated without any evidence or arrest.

I got pulled over under the suspicion of doing
a drug deal. No drugs were found and I was
never arrested. I have tons of tools and
construction debris in my truck. They said a
powder was fentanyl but never brought charges
or took any evidence from truck. Now they want
me to hire a company for thousands of dollars
to clean before releasing it to me. Is this
legal??

Asked on April 23, 2019 under General Practice, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Legally, they can't make you clean your truck simply because it is dirty: they can only require cleaning to remove an illegal or hazardous substance and, based on what you write, they have no evidence of that at present.
HOWEVER, if they will not voluntarily release it to you, you'd have to bring a legal action to gain the release of the truck, and such a legal action would not be easy for a nonlawyer--as a practical matter, you'd have to hire (and pay for) a lawyer. And then if  you do that, they will likely conduct tests on what is in the truck--and if they find fentanyl, not only would you have to clean it then (and could *possibly* lose the truck entirely: the government can often seize vehicles used to transport, etc. drugs) but could face charges. Unless you are 100% sure there is no contraband in it, you are likely best off paying for the cleaning--and even if you are sure, you will most likely get the truck back quicker if you clean rather than bring a legal action.


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