New Impound Policy Helps Unlicensed Drivers
The Los Angeles Police Commission approved a new policy Tuesday that allows unlicensed drivers to avoid a mandatory 30-day impound when their car is found in violation of the law.
Under the new policy, offenders who have valid identification, car registration and proof of insurance would not be required to have their car impounded following a traffic transgression.
Drivers at fault in an accident, with suspended licenses or other prior infractions would not qualify for a shortened impound.
Mayor Villaraigosa, Police Chief Charlie Beck and several civil rights groups proposed a policy in the Fall of 2011, then revised it early this year to update the department's interaction with the vehicles of unlicensed drivers.
The existing policy, which required a mandatory 30-day impound, drew fire from several groups, claiming that it discriminated against illegal immigrants who are unable to obtain a driver's license. Lawyers and activists with the National Lawyer's Guild, the Southern California Immigration Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union all fought for a change in the system.
Beck's proposal was opposed by the union representing rank and file police officers. That union filed a formal complaint last week stating that the department hadn't addressed the impact on the officers who are now required to enforce the new special order.
A memo by the California Legislative Council questioned the legality of the proposal.
The commission's vote isn't automatically subject to review by the City Counil, but a vote on the issue is not out of the question.