LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The city Police Commission today approved a new policy for impounding the cars of unlicensed drivers, allowing offenders who have valid identification, car registration and proof of insurance to avoid a mandatory 30-day impound.

Under the policy, which was approved on a 4-1 vote, drivers who were at fault in an accident, who had their licenses suspended, revoked or had been caught previously driving without a license would not qualify for a shortened impound.

At the urging of immigrant-rights activists, civil rights groups and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Police Chief Charlie Beck proposed a policy last fall and a revision in January to update the department’s handling of unlicensed drivers’ vehicles.

Lawyers and activists with the National Lawyers Guild, the Southern California Immigration Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union argued that the existing policy of a mandatory 30-day impound discriminated against illegal immigrants, who are unable to apply for a driver’s license.

But Beck’s proposal was opposed by the union representing rank-and-file police officers, which filed a formal complaint last week with the department’s employee relations administrator. In the complaint, the Los Angeles Police Protective League said the department failed to “meet and confer with the League over the effects and impact on the wages, hours and working conditions” of the officers who will have to enforce the new special order.

The change was also opposed by City Councilman Mitch Englander, who chairs the council’s Public Safety Committee.

“I don’t think this passes legal muster, quite frankly, from my analysis,” Englander said after a briefing on the issue last Friday, adding that the intent of the state law passed in the 1980s governing police impound procedure was to prevent unlicensed drivers from being on the road.

“Studies show the unlicensed driver will be back behind the wheel,” Englander said. “I don’t want blood on my hands, and I don’t know how many more deaths and injuries have to occur.”

A memo by the state Legislative Council, which provides legal advice to state legislators, also questioned the legality of the proposal.

The commission’s vote isn’t automatically subject to review by the City Council, but the council could vote to take up the issue.

LAPD Deputy Chief Michel Moore told the council’s Public Safety Committee last week that the revised policy is necessary because officers in the field are often confused about when to impound a car and for how long. About 85 percent of impounds are issued under a mandatory 30-day hold, he said. The rest are detained under a shortened period or not at all when a licensed driver is available to pick up an affected vehicle.

Under the new policy, unlicensed drivers who meet the selected criteria would also have their vehicles impounded for a shorter amount of time, based on their ability to pay impound fees and recover the vehicle.

Beck acknowledged after the Police Commission’s vote that the debate was “far from over,” but insisted that the policy would still crack down on unlicensed drivers who are repeat offenders or cause accidents.

“This is not a free ride,” the chief said.

Beck, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and Villaraigosa expressed support last week for creating a different driver’s license for illegal immigrants who have been in the country for several years and have a clean record.

Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, who is running for City Council, announced plans last week to introduce a bill to create a driver’s license category for illegal immigrants. Cedillo has introduced similar bills before that were vetoed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (11)
  1. geeM says:

    Is this “Special” treatment for one group ? it says this will not apply to those with suspended licenses. So if you don’t have a license, you get a free pass ??

  2. steve saer says:

    THIS RULE CHANGE IS NOT LEGAL , http://www.chp.ca.gov/html/impound.html A CITY ETC CANNOT change a state law

  3. Astonished says:

    Actually, it is more in the line of reverse discrimination, since only one segment of the community benefits from this special treatment, thereby leaving lawful drivers and citizens to bear the brunt of the law.

    But you didn’t really think they would vote against this did you? They are all, including the Chief of Police, appointees of the Mayor, and He is the one who is really pushing this. After all, his aim is to make L.A. a Sanctuary City.


    I don’t suppose the State will step in and shut this down?

  4. steveB says:

    I hope some “Citizen’s” rights group will file a lawsuit to overturn this idiotic policy.

  5. MD says:

    If someone is in this country illegally they should be arrested, deported, and NEVER allowed to return. They certainly shouldn’t be allowed to pick up their car after it’s been impounded because they’ve been issued a ticket for not obeying yet another one of our laws.

    It’s time to stop catering, time to stop pandering to people who are not citizens, can’t vote, use resources that should be reserved for citizens, and ARE ILLEGALLY IN THIS COUNTRY! My grandmother was a LEGAL immigrant who became a citizen and I have the utmost respect for those who respect the laws of this country like her and become a citizen through the proper process and THEN get a license.

    Illegal immigrants are, by definition, criminals. Supporting illegal immigrants is being an accessory to a crime and those who do should be treated as such.

    Illegally in the United States? Car impounded? You go to jail, get deported, can never return, and your car is sold to pay the legal expenses incurred as a result of your arrest and deportation. That’s what should be voted on today.

    1. lu gyhi says:

      this ie [ temporary rule ] i believe only apply s to [ONLY ] la city police . all other citys etc it does not apply . even with a la county sheriffs dept , CHP state police etc will not honer the citys unlawfully rruling ..it will still be 30 day impound .

  6. up urs LAPD brass says:

    “LAPD Deputy Chief Michel Moore told the council’s Public Safety Committee last week that the revised policy is necessary because officers in the field are often confused about when to impound a car and for how long. About 85 percent of impounds are issued under a mandatory 30-day hold, he said. The rest are detained under a shortened period or not at all when a licensed driver is available to pick up an affected vehicle.”

    It’s not at all rocket science deputy chief dumbo. It’s a 30 day if they’re suspended or never been validly licensed. Always has been. You’d know that if you had worked patrol instead of being a political hack to get to where you are at. If you are still confused, take all that deputy chief spare time and review CVC 14602.6(a). It’s the law. You know, that thing you are supposed to enforce?

  7. Bruiser says:

    I agree with all the above comments, as they make be proud to be an American!!! drivers licenses for Illegal Immigrants??? Really??/ What part of ILLEGAL don’t those people understand??? MD you are my hero!!!

    1. Astonished says:

      The Mayor of the City of Los Angeles is behind this. He wants Los Angeles to be a Sanctuary City. It is part of his road to the White House plan.

      I sure hope voters get real smart when it comes time for him to campaign!


    If you don’t have a Drivers License you shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car. I don’t know why that is so hard for others to understand. No Drivers License TAKE THEIR CAR. Sell it and put the money towards the Ca. budget. You have NO right to drive a car on the road with out a Drivers License. When you have been by an unlicensed driver try and get anything from them. Not going to happen. Been there done that already. We need to STOP bowing down to the ACLU and ANY others that think peoples rights are not honered because they are here ILLEGALLY. You want RIGHTS become a LEGAL CITIZEN of the USA and then you get the same rights that others fought for.

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