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Feb 2012
State agency: LAPD proposal to not impound cars of unlicensed drivers for 30 days illegal

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck's proposal to not impound the cars of unlicensed drivers for 30 days is illegal, a state agency has opined.

The legal opinion issued by the State Office of Legislative Counsel on Saturday said a vehicle driven by an unlicensed motorist must be impounded for 30 days under state law.

Beck has proposed relaxing the LAPD's impound policy by allowing cars driven by unlicensed motorists to be released to the registered owner or a licensed driver before the 30 days is up.

The controversial proposal went before the civilian Police Commission Tuesday, but the board postponed any action for two weeks while the city attorney determines if Beck's revised policy complies with state law.

LAPD has tweaked the proposal since it was first floated in December after meeting with immigration rights groups, officials and prosecutorial agencies.

An unlicensed driver will now need to have proof of insurance, a valid government-issued ID, and not have been involved any major accidents for the car to be released if the registered owner or licensed driver is immediately available. Otherwise, the car will be impounded for the full 30 days.

The unlicensed driver will still be cited, according to LAPD. A majority of cars - about 75 percent - will still be impounded for the full 30 days under the new rules, officials said.

Drivers whose licenses have been suspended or revoked will be subject to arrest and the 30-day impound, police said.

About two dozen speakers turned out for the commission meeting, with most still criticizing the LAPD for the proposal. Some immigrant rights activists said the policy would still unfairly target undocumented immigrants who cannot be legally issued drivers licenses, while other residents cited a threat to public safety as a major concern.



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