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The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office siezed this tricked-out 1939 Ford Deluxe coupe after arresting the driver on impaired driving charges. The car is for sale for the next 10 days on eBay.com. The car's estimated value is approximately $30,000, according to a local sheriff's deputy. Courtesy photo

1939 Ford hot rod forfeited by impaired driver for sale:

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

Gentlemen, start your bidding ... The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office is selling a 1939 Ford Deluxe coupe forfeited from an impaired driver. The 10-day sale of the car began Tuesday on eBay.com.

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Unlike most forfeited vehicles seized either for impaired driving or drug-related cases, which usually sell for $1,000 to $2,000, this car's value has been estimated by local car enthusiasts at approximately $30,000, according to Randy Kveene, chief deputy. "It's restored, with everything on it," he said.

The car was seized after an Aug. 22, 2008, traffic stop along County Road 8 north of Atwater. According to the complaint filed against the driver of the vehicle, Jerry Lee Smith, 58, of Dassel, a citizen called county dispatch around 11:30 a.m. after observing the car crossing the centerline, varying speeds from 45 to 60 mph and almost striking an oncoming vehicle.

Smith was stopped by a sheriff's deputy, failed field sobriety tests and registered a 0.272 blood-alcohol level on a breath test administered during the stop. He was arrested and later refused to submit to another test.

In an interview with the deputy, Smith said the car belonged to him even though it was registered in his girlfriend's name, that he paid $47,000 for it and that he was on his way to Montevideo to get upholstery work done on it. He also said he had consumed Windsor whiskey, mixed with water, that morning.

According to court records, Smith was charged with gross misdemeanors for driving while impaired and refusing to submit to a chemical test and driving after cancellation-inimical to public safety and a misdemeanor for driving while impaired. He had impaired driving convictions in 1983, 1984, 1987 and 1996.

Smith pleaded guilty in March to the gross misdemeanor charge for driving while impaired and refusing to submit to a chemical test. He was ordered to serve 365 days in the county jail, with 260 days stayed, and the remaining time staggered over the next two years. He was fined $3,000, with $2,000 stayed, and ordered to submit to staggered periods of electronic alcohol monitoring and three years of probation.

Normally, a law enforcement agency can seize, and seek the forfeiture, of a vehicle on a driver's third impaired driving offense in 10 years, Kveene said. However, there are other factors that make it possible for the law to take your vehicle on a second offense. Those factors include having a blood-alcohol level over 0.20, refusing to submit to testing or child endangerment, such has having a child less than 16 years of age in the vehicle.

During the forfeiture proceedings, a driver has the right to contest the forfeiture action. Sometimes, the sheriff's office starts the forfeiture process but doesn't complete it because there is a lien against the vehicle that is more than it is worth, or if the car is repossessed or because of other extenuating factors.

The Sheriff's Office seized 26 vehicles for drug and alcohol-related cases in 2008, and six were eventually returned to the defendant. The 12 vehicles from impaired driving cases sold for a total of $17,229.74. Then, the office paid $3,923.22 in expenses. The remaining money was divided 70/30 between the Sheriff's Office and the prosecutor.

It's pretty obvious what makes the 1939 Ford stand out from the vehicles usually seized by the Sheriff's Office. It's a hot rod amongst common vehicles. Usually, the cars sell for a few thousand or less. Kveene doesn't bother to sell the least of the seized vehicles on eBay because of the $125 listing fee. Rather, they are sold on the county auction.

The highest sale price to date, and the Sheriff's Office has been selling on eBay since November 2005, is $12,600. The agency has sold about 60 vehicles on the Web site.

"Previous to this, our vehicle of most value was a Ford F-350, diesel, crew cab pickup," Kveene said.

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