20-45. Seizure of documents and plates.

(a) The Division is hereby authorized to take possession of any certificate of title, registration card, permit, license, or registration plate issued by it upon expiration, revocation, cancellation, or suspension thereof, or which is fictitious, or which has been unlawfully or erroneously issued, or which has been unlawfully used.

(b) The Division may give notice to the owner, licensee or lessee of its authority to take possession of any certificate of title, registration card, permit, license, or registration plate issued by it and require that person to surrender it to the Commissioner or his officers or agents. Any person who fails to surrender the certificate of title, registration card, permit, license, or registration plate or any duplicate thereof, upon personal service of notice or within 10 days after receipt of notice by mail as provided in G.S. 20-48, shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

(c) Any sworn law enforcement officer with jurisdiction, including a member of the State Highway Patrol, is authorized to seize the certificate of title, registration card, permit, license, or registration plate, if the officer has electronic or other notification from the Division that the item has been revoked or cancelled, or otherwise has probable cause to believe that the item has been revoked or cancelled under any law or statute, including G.S. 20-309(e). If a criminal proceeding relating to a certificate of title, registration card, permit, or license is pending, the law enforcement officer in possession of that item shall retain the item pending the entry of a final judgment by a court with jurisdiction. If there is no criminal proceeding pending, the law enforcement officer shall deliver the item to the Division.

(d) Any law enforcement officer who seizes a registration plate pursuant to this section shall report the seizure to the Division within 48 hours of the seizure and shall return the registration plate, but not a fictitious registration plate, to the Division within 10 business days of the seizure. (1937, c. 407, s. 10; 1975, c. 716, s. 5; 1981, c. 938, s. 2; 1993, c. 539, s. 329; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 2005-357, s. 1; 2006-105, ss. 2.1, 2.2; 2006-264, s. 98.1.)