- Traffic Stop Turns into Half-Million Dollar Seizure
Traffic Stop Turns into Half-Million Dollar Seizure
The Utah Supreme Court is in the process of deciding whether or not the civil asset forfeiture law rightfully allowed the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) to seize a half-million dollars on what was a routine traffic stop.
Kyle Savely was pulled over in Summit County in 2016 for following a vehicle too closely. It was then that the UHP proceeded to have a drug dog sniff the vehicle for narcotics. Although none were found, they did come across half a million dollars in a black bag lying in Mr. Savely’s trunk.
UHP reported the money to the federal government due to what they reported as an active investigation with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The money was never returned to Savely even though he has not yet been charged with any crimes except a traffic violation, for which he was later acquitted.
Supporters of Savely argue that UHP unlawfully confiscated the money and may have tipped off the DEA with the intent to holding on to the money. In 2000 Utah voters passed Initiative B, which sets boundaries for police on the seizing of money or property. In some situations local police agencies have the ability to split 80% of the property seized with the DEA.
Mark Burns, director of Utah Attorney General Highways and Utilities division, claims there was a federal court seizure warrant that was in place and the UHP were just following protocol.
The Utah Supreme Court has taken the case and Savely has called upon Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP for legal representation. Libertas Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on equal opportunity for all Utahans, is planning to lobby Utah State Legislature and call to tighten the civil asset forfeiture law.