The Los Angeles Police Protective League’s objections to the latest proposed changes to the LAPD 30-day hold policy are twofold: the Chief’s proposal does not conform to state law and unlicensed drivers are unsafe drivers.
Unlicensed driving is a crime in California, and Vehicle Code Section 14602.6, which calls for vehicles to be impounded for up to 30 days, is part of the penalty structure the state legislature established for punishment of unlicensed driving. When lawmakers created the 30-day hold law, they were very clear with their intent and in fact, the legislature’s findings make it clear that the law was enacted to prevent damage to lives and property by unlicensed drivers.
In creating his own law, Chief Beck is asking officers to use a “progressive penalty” and only impound vehicles for one day using Vehicle Code § 22651(p). The purpose of this Vehicle Code is simply to allow officers to quickly remove vehicles from the streets; it was not intended to address unlicensed drivers.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles led a pair of studies in the 1990s that found unlicensed drivers were nearly five times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than licensed drivers. Impounding vehicles, the DMV concluded, was an effective way to keep unlicensed drivers off the road. Two nationwide studies by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded that between 13 to 14 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes did not have a valid license at the time.
Our concern is for the safety of residents on the streets of Los Angeles. Returning cars to unlicensed drivers, who already have shown their willingness to disregard the law by driving when they are lawfully forbidden to, is simply bad public policy and not what the legislature intended.
We hope you share our concern for the safety of our roads, and that you’ll take a moment to contact your Los Angeles elected officials and ask them to reconsider this policy change for the sake of the public’s safety.
We invite you to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.