(1) The right of property in and to all conveyances, boats, and other vehicles of transportation, and all tanks and other equipment used in connection therewith, employed in the illegal transportation or delivery of motor fuel in this state for the purpose of illegally evading or avoiding any fuel tax provided or imposed by the laws of this state, and all other personal property that may have been used by any person for the purpose of illegally evading or avoiding any such tax, or which may have been used to facilitate the illegal evasion or avoidance of any such tax, is declared not to exist in any person, and the same shall be forfeited. The department, its authorized agents, and the several sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, and police officers of municipalities shall seize any and all such things; and the same shall be safely kept by the sheriff of the county until disposed of as provided by law. Every conveyance, boat, and other vehicle of transportation, and all tanks and other equipment used in connection therewith, as hereinabove described shall be seized and may be forfeited as provided by the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act. All other personal property shall be seized and forfeited as provided by this section.
(2) Any person who violates s. 206.199, s. 206.20, or s. 206.204, or who fails to obtain a license as a carrier and report as required by this chapter, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, and such person shall be subject to the forfeiture provisions of this section.
(3) The sheriff of the county, within 10 days after the receipt of any such things, shall make and subscribe to an affidavit in writing before some officer authorized by law to administer an oath, reciting such seizure, with the date, place, and things seized, giving a reasonably full description thereof, the name of the alleged owner and person from whose possession same were taken, if either or both be known to such sheriff, and a short statement of the circumstances under which said property was being used for the purpose of illegally evading or avoiding, or had been used for the purpose of illegally evading or avoiding, any fuel tax provided or imposed by the laws of this state.
(4) Within 10 days after the receipt of such things by the sheriff, the sheriff shall present such affidavit to the judge of the circuit court of the county where such things were seized, and the circuit judge of said court shall direct that such sheriff shall serve written notice upon such owner and person from whose possession such things were taken, if known, and if he or she, it, or they be within the county, of time and place of the hearing upon such affidavit, which may be in term time or in vacation, and at any place within the judicial circuit as the circuit judge may fix, which notice shall be signed by the circuit judge citing such person to appear and show cause, if any, why such things should not be adjudged forfeited and disposed of as in this section provided.
(5) If such sheriff shall recite in his or her affidavit that such things were not taken from the possession of any person, or that the owner is unknown, or that either of such persons is without the county, conceals himself or herself or themselves, or that personal service of such notice cannot be made by such sheriff for any good reason, the circuit judge shall by written order direct that, in lieu of personal notice of such hearing to any such person, written notice of such hearing shall be posted at the county courthouse door, directed to all persons interested in such things and giving notice of such seizure and of the date and place thereof and a reasonable description of the things seized, and of the time and place of the hearing upon such affidavit, which notice shall be signed by the circuit judge.
(6) If at the time and place provided for the hearing upon such affidavit no person shall appear and claim such things, the affidavit of the sheriff shall stand as confessed and taken as true, and the recitals therein contained shall not thereafter be open to question in any other court or proceeding; and the circuit judge shall thereupon make an order in writing directing the sale thereof.
(7) Such sale shall be in the presence of the clerk of the circuit court of the county and at such times and places and in such manner as the judge shall in his or her order direct.