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Two Calif. Bills Would Loosen Vehicle Impounds for Illegals

July 11, 2011  | 

Photo: versageek

A pair of bills now making their way through the California Legislature would, if passed in their current versions, make it more difficult for patrol officers overseeing sobriety checkpoints to seize the vehicles of illegal immigrants.

The authors of the two bills — AB 353 and AB 1389 — acknowledge they're providing cover to undocumented, unlicensed drivers who lose their vehicles at the checkpoints if they aren't intoxicated.

California law enforcement leaders have taken a formal stance opposing AB 1389 and told POLICE Magazine they may be able to stomach changes that AB 353 would implement.

Under current California law, officers operating a DUI checkpoint can impound the vehicles of intoxicated, unlicensed, or uninsured drivers. After a vehicle is impounded, it can be held for up to 30 days and, if unclaimed, sold at auction.

Supporters of current law say the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's 2000 study, "Unlicensed to Kill," shows that motorists without licenses pose enough of a risk to justify a vehicle seizure.

Vehicle seizures can be a lucrative business for cities, especially Bell, Maywood, Montebello, Escondido, and others. In Bell, the practice has led to corruption, as city leaders pulled in millions each year partially from impound money.

Montebello collected $95,000 last year in impound revenue, and officers didn't perform a field sobriety test at three of the five checkpoints, reports California Watch.

The sponsor of AB 1389, Assemblyman Michael Allen (D-Napa Valley), has said his bill implements Ingersoll v. Palmer, a 1987 state Supreme Court ruling setting the protocol for running a DUI checkpoint. The bill would limit daytime DUI checkpoints and require agencies to make the location random rather than setting them up at high-incident locations.

"There are times when people drive drunk during the day," Newark Police Chief James Leal tells POLICE. "There are times when we've set up checkpoints during the day during high alcohol consumption times. They're suggesting we don't do that anymore."

The goal of the bill is to "provide clarity and uniformity" for law enforcement and the community, David Miller, a senior consultant to Miller, writes in an e-mail.

"It is not [Allen's] intention to prevent law enforcement from getting intoxicated drivers off the road, but he does feel that DUI checkpoints should be focused on deterring people from driving under the influence," Miller wrote to POLICE Magazine. "Clearly, setting up a checkpoint on a Saturday near Home Depot or on a Sunday near a Catholic Church is not about deterring people from driving under the influence."

AB 353, which is sponsored by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), would eliminate the 30-day holding period and prevent immediate impounding of vehicles by undocumented, unlicensed drivers. The bill would allow a licensed family member or friend to pick up the vehicle up to 30 minutes before the end of the checkpoint.

According to Assemblyman Cedillo's office, in 2009 police impounded more than 24,000 vehicles at checkpoints, which is about seven times higher than the 3,200 drunk-driving arrests.

The assemblyman wants to end an "unfair practice that has been extremely costly to unlicensed drivers whose cars have been impounded for 30 days," he said in a statement. "This effectively results in forfeiture of the car, since towing and impoundment fees may well exceed the value of the vehicle. We need to focus on impounding drivers arrested for DUI. We need to give an opportunity to unlicensed drivers to retrieve their cars."

Chief Leal, chair of the traffic safety committee of the California Police Chief's Association and California Peace Officers Association, said law enforcement leaders are negotiating with Assemblyman Cedillo to make changes.

"We're trying to get it to the point that we can all live with it," Leal said. "At the end of the day, law enforcement's purpose is to protect the public."

By Paul Clinton


Impound Inventory

LAPD Loosens Impound Policy, Union Files Grievance

Comments (19)

Displaying 1 - 19 of 19

Moe @ 7/12/2011 10:12 AM

Assemblyman Gil cedillo and Michael allen needs to understand that driving without a drivers license is against the law. What they are trying to do is give these law breaking people an excuse to go on breaking the law. The law is clear for everyone in the United States of America, if you don't have a drivers license, you can't drive period! Stop trying to make things difficult for everyone else. God bless America!

impoundguy @ 7/12/2011 10:33 AM

So you break our laws and come here "illegally" and now we have to change our laws to protect you from having to abide by those laws and rules? The tail is for sure NOW wagging the dog. Am I the only one who see something seriously wrong with this type of hypocrisy?

impoundguy @ 7/12/2011 10:44 AM

and how many of these unlicensed drivers do you think carry vehicle insurance...very few, if any. So when you get T-boned in an intersection by one of these unlicensed drivers...because they were looking for an ALTO sign instead of a STOP sign, who do you think is going to have to pick up the tab for those damages?....NOT THEM.

E.J. @ 7/12/2011 12:07 PM

These politicians want to make it more accommodating for illegals to come here to cost us and damage us even more. On top of all the damages directly caused by illegal aliens already mentioned, we're spending more on school for the illegal's kids, social services for their families which they did not pay for with tax like we do. Every time their kids in a dysfunctional family get taken by DCFS in California, it is costing tax payers thousands per kid. They're existence is damaging even when they don't commit crimes. And, I'm just talking violent crimes. If I include all the petty crimes, the cost grows even more. How many times cops go to those loud party calls where they blast music from adult human height speakers with every intent to break the law and disrespect the whole community, then accuse cops of discrimination when they get a court summon? How many land lord tenant disputes where land lord should not be a land lord in the first place(violating just about every land lord regulation in the book) and tenant is a crook that would not have cost tax dollars in the first place if illegals were not here? This is just a few examples. Do I need to go on?

E.J. @ 7/12/2011 12:17 PM

@impound guy: Right. Getting paid by insurance aside, if you're a pedestrian and get hit by a car they're driving, you're lucky if they even stop and call an ambulance for you. Hit and runners.

Rick @ 7/12/2011 3:05 PM

Wow, that seems really fair. Penalize citizens that don't follow the law and allow illegals that don't follow the law a free pass! What has happened to our country? Vicente Fox's government admitted twice that the US, Canada and Mexico will be merging into one nation, much like the African Union, European Union and the Pacific Union is in progress (Google it!). This is just one of the steps towards that goal. Goodbye law and order, goodbye Constitution and goodbye 2nd Amendment.

impoundguy @ 7/12/2011 3:09 PM

No way are they going to stop...NEVER. They're not going to risk getting busted, going to jail or deported from some sorry ass Gringo. Welcome to Mexifornia.

Steve in LA @ 7/12/2011 3:57 PM

This is a typical action from one of the most corrupt legislators in California, Gil “One Bill Gil” Cedillo. To educate those who live in a more civilized state, Cedillo usually authors one bill a year, which would give illegal aliens the right to California Driver’s licenses.

Never mind that we have no way to verify the illegal aliens’ names, dates of birth, criminal history, country of origin, etc. Fortunately, Cedillo has never successfully had this bill signed into law.

As Cedillo is aware, a high percentage of traffic collisions involve illegal aliens, who are unlicensed, uninsured, and with the help of “One Bill,” unaccountable for their actions. At present, the only legal solution has been to impound the illegal aliens’ vehicles. Of course, Cedillo, being the racist that he is, wants to restrain officers from impounding these vehicles. Should this bill get signed into law, Cedillo should be forced to attend every funeral for the innocent people who are killed in collisions that involve unlicensed illegal aliens.

michael @ 7/12/2011 4:07 PM

I totally agree with everyone here, I thought it was a "Privilege" to drive not a right. This is so unbelievable, our state has gone to shit. I am so sick of all the laws changing for the benefit of "illegal Aliens" and lets fu-- over the tax paying citizens instead. This is a bunch of BS and our Assemblyman make me sick. Our Local,State,Federal Government are set on changing our laws to benefit the "less fortunate". Make us all even one way or another.
This attitude is breaking the entire system and is going to bankrupt this country on all levels.
If someone comes here from another country and follows the procedures to have a right to be here then thats fine. But, since people are not following our laws and rules, the government feels like they need to change our laws to accommodate them. This is so wrong to the rest of us.

Tom Ret LPD @ 7/12/2011 4:07 PM

California sure dances to a different tune and that tune very often has nothing to do with common sense. In reference to this case, it pays to have uninsured motorist insurance thanks to politicians like these.

Tschako @ 7/12/2011 4:32 PM

It is so damn politically correct! How many other laws would they like us to ignore just to please their constituents? Illegals vote too.

ELNINORUDO @ 7/12/2011 11:15 PM

If u drive a car with no insurance, valid registration,or a valid drivers liscense your car should be impounded. I guess if illegal imigrants are going tobe given a break being that im a chicano if I encounter a check point ill only speak spanish have some landscaping tools in my trunk an say "no migra, me no gringo" what the he'll happened to eqality in this country. Everybody is supose tobe the same! Regardless of where you came from or what your nationality . Has lady justice been replaced by an imigration officer?

Morning Eagle @ 7/12/2011 11:21 PM

All good comments. How do people like cedillo get elected? Does CA knowingly allow illegals to vote? This kind of proposed legislation is one more reason I am so glad I left CA over ten years ago. I truly feel for you all that have to put with that kind of corruption and BS.

Mike @ 7/13/2011 6:29 AM

It's all about voting base. This is a way for the politicians to get in favor with a large group of people to ensure that they get re-elected time after time (Undocumented workers have more children born here who will quickly grow up with full voting rights).
"(Allen) does feel that DUI checkpoints should be focused on deterring people from driving under the influence." Interestingly, DUI checkpoints do not net large numbers of DUI drivers. The laws are set up to offer drunk drivers multiple opportunities to avoid the checkpoint before they ever enter the line to go through. Checkpoints are more for public education, to make the public think twice about driving drunk because they "might get caught." Interestingly, we can catch more drunk drivers by putting the same officers from the checkpoint out on random patrols. I see it every day when a checkpoint with 20 officers nets 3-5 drunk drivers, when a team of 6 officers on DUI targeted random patrol nets 5-8 DUI drivers on the same night. How we can justify giving more rights to non-citizens than our own citizens I can not figure out. What a shame.

Fed Cop @ 7/13/2011 7:56 AM

Being an illegal is illegal! So if you're a US Citizen driving without a valid DL, DWLSR, habitual traffic offender, etc., you'll still get your car impounded. But if you're a sober illegal alien, sorry, undocumented, without a valid DL, DWLSR, habitual traffic offender, etc., you'll be able to have a friend or relative come get your car. Hmmm... is that the same as given illegals in-state tuition and US citizens non-resident tuitions (sic)?

In California, let's make all the illegals legal, and all the US Citizens illegal, we'd get better benefits and won't have to comply with any laws.

No More Being American @ 7/13/2011 9:25 PM

I was born and raised in California. I am so sick of our politician making it easier and easier for people coming her illegal. They get free medical, welfare and housing. Our schools, hospital and jails are overcrowded. The neighborhoods that have mostly illegals looks like shit. We should get rid of all our laws. If American Citizens are bound by these laws then damn it so should the illegals. I have live in this state for more than forty years. Everyday, it is becoming more and more of Mexico. Upon my retirement, I am taking my family, selling my home and moving from this state. I want to live in a state with politicians with balls who are willing to enforce our state and federal laws. The last time I checked, this was America. Or is it? If the other states are becoming more like California then my last resort is to leave this country. My wife and I have talked about it a long time. Maybe leaving this country is the best thing. You can bet your ass, we will not be moving to good old Mexico.

Speak English @ 7/13/2011 9:33 PM

Make it easier for the illegals. Give them free everything. I guess our politicians are saying the hell with Americans. You can not even dial a damn business phone number without first having to press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish.

vbdep @ 7/14/2011 8:01 PM

Of course Commiefornia would love to let illegals do just what they want. Obama would give them the country too! Why in the hell should they be allowed to get their vehicles back? I guess enough innocent U.S. citizens haven't died at the hand of drunkass illegals. Maybe if it hits home to these idiot legislators, they'll finally quit giving in to these dirtbags. I hope nothing happens to them,but they need to wake the hell up. These POSs' need to obey our laws.

fedupwithca @ 10/13/2011 11:51 PM

Here's my story- Three vehicles recked (two of them mine) infront of my house by an illegal 15 yr. old teaching his illegal 40+ yr. old mother how to drive. She step on the accelerator coming around the corner and neither of them knew how to react! Cops came --officer determined not to arrest they would only get deported and be back next week! Their car was registered to someone in Sacramento (who sold it to them two months before the accident!). No mine had to pay--fortunately not for their car!!But waddya do its calamexico!!!!!

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