To Tow or Not to Tow
written by Laramie:
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Starting in 1995, California Police departments were granted the authority to impound cars for up to 30 days if the driver did not have a DMV license to operate a vehicle. Violation of this law was discovered at sobriety checkpoints when the operator of the car was asked for a driver's license, and also by patrolmen stopping motorists for ordinary traffic violations. Checkpoints were scattered at various locations around the state, mostly in the larger cities. For the owner to get his car out of storage, the cost ran upwards of $1000, which covered towing and storage fees. Thousands of Californian citizens were affected by this ruling and were, naturally, upset and inconvenienced without transportation to and from their workplace, shopping for groceries, and attending social activities. But they knew the law and they paid the price.
A serious problem arose out of the 1993 California law that prevented illegal immigrants from getting a driver's license. This meant, of course, that every illegal immigrant who was caught in a sobriety checkpoint, or who was stopped for a normal traffic violation, had their car impounded, as none of them would have a driver's license, as the officer at the scene would ask to see one. The ACLU and other Latino and illegal immigrant sympathizers felt the restrictive driver's license law was an "aggressive anti-immigrant policy that inflamed racial tensions." Those affected by the law felt that it ignored the fact that a car was a necessity, not a luxury, and having their car towed away was an too great a punishment in the first place, not to mention the high cost to retrieve it. Police officials, of course, claimed they were targeting law breakers, not illegal immigrants, and wondered what was wrong with aggressive policies that enforced existing laws.
In the last year and a half, as cars were being taken from them, 670 illegal immigrants were turned over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department for possible deportation, as should be the case. Many of these illegals, were also involved in drugs, had prior DUI's, and theft or assault records. Towing companies, in one California city, were paying $75,000 for the right to tow cited cars, keep any storage fees, and if the cars were not claimed, for one reason or another, to auction off the cars and keep the money. Some activists said "This was like the towing companies had a legal right to steal the cars." I suppose these same people would feel that when authorities confiscated illegal drugs from either illegal immigrants or anyone else, and the vehicles that illegally transported them, and then auctioned the vehicles off and destroyed the drugs, that the authorities were stealing their cars and drugs. If you can believe it, there is a group of activists in one city that drives around town locating sobriety checkpoints, and then texting messages on the web as to where the blockades are set up so unlicensed drivers, or even those driving under the influence or those with outstanding warrants, could avoid being stopped and getting tickets or having their cars impounded.
Well, starting January 1, 2012, a new law takes effect. It states that the police, either at sobriety checkpoints or elsewhere, can no longer impound a car just because the driver does not have a valid DMV license to operate a vehicle. So, many drivers won't be asked to show their driver's licenses, and the illegals then will be free to drive away without being discovered as such. I can't help but wonder if this state government policy is nothing more than intentionally not wanting to identify the immigrants who are in the country illegally. I guess this is what gets votes from those who don't want existing immigration laws enforced, just change the law.