Caught driving his Ferrari 360 Modena under enough influences to spark a Grateful Dead album, New York resident James Ferrari nevertheless fought the government's attempt to seize his ride. Now a federal judge has ruled Ferrari's Ferrari belongs to Ferrari.
While Enzo Ferrari of Modena, Italy, built some of the finest driving machines ever, James Ferrari of Long Island has built a record of terrible driving, with a drunk driving conviction and several license revocations even before he was stopped in May 2009 by Suffolk County police while hitting 100 mph and weaving. You know your crimes have put you in a bad position when even a federal judge makes fun of your name:
Pulled over by an arresting officer, Ferrari, whose eyes were red and whose gait was marked by a decided lack of maneuverability and performance, had a smell of alcohol about him. With slurred speech, Ferrari duly confessed to having consumed alcohol before driving and also confided that his intoxication was partly fueled by thirteen prescribed medications at the time. The arresting officer then spotted what appeared to be crack cocaine inside Ferrari's Ferrari. "The crack pipe's mine," Ferrari offered.
Things didn't go well on the criminal front, and Ferrari eventually pleaded guilty to several charges. But Suffolk County had an additional punishment in mind: It moved to impound and sell his 360 Modena
Under New York law, counties can't just take the vehicles of bad drivers; they have to go through a hearing and explain why doing so is legal and justified. But in Ferrari's case, the county attorney simply argued that as a repeat offender, the county should keep his vehicle so he stays off the roads — even though Ferrari also owns a Land Rover.
Ferrari sued for $500,000 in damages, and U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert ruled Tuesday that his suit could go forward, saying the county hadn't given Ferrari the due process he deserved — and that keeping a drunk from a Ferrari would do little to make roads safer if he still had a Land Rover. Or, you know, had alcohol interlocks on every vehicle he touches. Even Enzo might approve.