(1) For the protection of the revenue of this state, to prevent the illegal importation of tangible personal property which is subject to tax in this state, and to strengthen and make more effective the manner and method of enforcing payment of the tax imposed by this chapter, the department is hereby authorized and empowered to put into operation a system of permits whereby any person or dealer as defined in this chapter may import tangible personal property by truck, automobile, or other means of transportation other than a common carrier, without having said truck, automobile, or other means of transportation, seized and subjected to legal proceedings for its forfeiture. Such system of permits shall require the person or dealer who desires to import tangible personal property into this state, which property is subject to tax imposed by this chapter, to apply to the department or its designated agent for a certificate of registration and a permit stating the kind of vehicle used, the name of the driver, the license number of the vehicle, the kind or character of tangible personal property to be imported, the date, the name and address of the consignee and such other information as the department may deem necessary to prevent the illegal transportation of tangible personal property into this state. Such certificate of registration and permit shall be free of cost to the applicant and forms for such certificate of registration and permit may be obtained from the department or its designated agents.
(2) The importation into this state of tangible personal property which is subject to tax, by truck, automobile, or other means of transportation other than a common carrier without having first obtained a certificate of registration and permit as hereinabove described (if the tax imposed by this chapter on the said tangible personal property has not been paid), shall be construed as an attempt to evade payment of the said tax and the same is hereby prohibited and the said truck, automobile, or other means of transportation, other than that of common carrier, and said taxable property may be seized by the department in order to secure the same as evidence in a trial and the same shall be subject to forfeiture and sale in the manner provided for in this chapter. No certificate of registration or permit shall be required to transport personal effects of a driver, owner, or passengers of any private automobile or carrier vehicle not engaged in carrying goods for resale within the state. The department may issue a certificate of registration and permit to a person who is regularly or frequently importing into this state tangible personal property in trucks owned by him or her in connection with the person’s own business, requiring that reports, copies of sales documents, and other information may be filed at regular or frequent intervals with the department after importation of tangible personal property subject to the tax, and the department may require as a condition for the issuance of such certificate of registration and permit that such person post a bond payable to the department in an amount sufficient to guarantee payment of the tax on such goods as may be imported by such person, which amount the department shall set.
(3) Subject to the above stated exception of private vehicles, any truck, automobile, or other means of transportation other than a common carrier which is used to import into this state tangible personal property which is subject to tax under this chapter, together with the contents thereof, is hereby declared to be contraband and subject to confiscation unless a certificate of registration and permit as hereinabove described was first obtained. The department may confiscate any such truck, automobile, or other means of transportation other than a common carrier together with its contents whenever the same is found to be importing without the certificate of registration and permit tangible personal property, the sale or use of which is taxable under this chapter. Such permit shall be posted in or on the vehicle or made immediately available for inspection. The department or its agent is authorized hereby to turn over to any sheriff or constable for safekeeping any vehicle or property seized hereunder, and such sheriff or constable shall collect from the vehicle owner costs provided by the general law for performing similar service.
(4) Upon seizure for confiscation, the department or its representatives shall appraise the value of the vehicle and its said contents according to its best judgment and shall deliver to the person, if any found in possession of such property, a receipt showing the fact of seizure, from whom seized, the place of seizure, a description of the vehicle and contents seized. A copy of said receipt shall be filed in the office of the department and shall be open to public inspection.
(5) The department, or any representative of the department, shall within 30 days advertise the said vehicle and its contents or other property so seized for sale to the highest bidder by one proper notice in a newspaper published in the county where the property is to be sold, if the county has such a newspaper, if there is no newspaper in such county, then by notice on the courthouse door, at least 30 days prior to the date of sale and contain a description of the vehicle and property to be sold.
(6) Any person claiming any property so seized as contraband goods may, at any time before the sale, file with the department, at Tallahassee, a claim in writing stating his or her interest in the article seized. The department shall determine the claim.
(7) In the event the ruling of the department is favorable to the claimant, the department shall deliver to the claimant the vehicle or property so seized. If the ruling of the department is adverse to the claimant, the department shall proceed to sell such contraband goods in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this chapter. The expense of storage and transportation shall be adjudged as part of the cost of the proceedings in such manner as the department shall fix pending any proceeding to recover a vehicle or other property seized under this chapter. The department may order delivery thereof to any claimant who shall execute with one or more sureties, approved by the department, and deliver to the department, a bond in favor of the state for the payment of a sum double the appraised value thereof as of the time of any hearing; and if the vehicle or other property is not returned at the time of the hearing, the bond shall stand in lieu of, and be forfeited in the same manner as, such vehicle or other property.
(8) The confiscated vehicle or goods shall not be sold pending any judicial review but shall be stored by the department until the final disposition of said case.
(9) Within the discretion of the department, the claimant may be awarded possession of the confiscated goods pending any judicial review; however, the claimant shall be required to execute a bond payable to the state in an amount double the value of the property seized, the sureties to be approved by the department. The condition of the bond shall be that the obligors shall pay to the state the full value of the vehicle or goods seized unless upon certiorari the decision of the department shall be reversed and the property awarded to the claimant.
(10) If no claim is interposed, such vehicle or other goods shall be forfeited without further proceedings and the same sold as hereinabove provided. The above procedure is the sole remedy of any claimant, and no court shall have jurisdiction to interfere therewith by replevin, injunction, or supersedeas or in any other manner.
(11) Any funds derived from the sale of confiscated vehicles or other goods shall be distributed or allocated in the same manner as other funds derived from the taxing statute.