Monday, October 10, 2011

New Law Seeks to End Impound Abuse

Police agencies in California will no longer be able to freely impound cars from sober but unlicensed drivers who are stopped at drunk-driving checkpoints under legislation signed Sunday by Gov. Jerry Brown.  Under the new law written by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), if a sober driver is caught at a DUI checkpoint without a valid license, law enforcement officers must release the car to a qualified driver representing the registered owner. In cases where a legal driver is not readily available, AB 353 says, the vehicle is to be released to one later at the impound yard.

Some CA lawmakers have alleged that sobriety checkpoints have been misused by some cities to unfairly target illegal immigrants who do not have a driver’s license. Because cities can hold cars taken from unlicensed drivers for 30 days, the accumulated impound fees can turn out to be more than the car is worth, resulting in some drivers losing their cars.