LAPD to Reform Car Impound Policy for Unlicensed Drivers

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LOS ANGELES -- On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Police Commission, in a 4-to-1 vote, approved LAPD Chief Charlie Beck’s proposal to update the city’s car impound procedures for unlicensed drivers who meet certain requirements. The move was welcomed news for immigrant rights groups who have been fighting to reform the car impound policy.

“In approving LAPD Chief Charlie Beck's proposal for modified car impound procedures, the Los Angeles Police Commission took a stand on the side of fairness and justice for the immigrant community," said Angelica Salas, executive director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). "CHIRLA welcomes this new approach to car impounds and we look forward to working with Chief Beck and others to realize his vision of granting California driver's licenses to all Californians who pass the requisite tests, regardless of immigration status."

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said last week that "provisional" or "nonresident" licenses for undocumented drivers could actually increase safety on the road, a statement that was supported by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Sheriff Lee Baca, and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich.

The reform would allow some vehicles to be retrieved by a licensed and insured driver. The change is in line with a similar one made last year regarding impounds following stops of non-intoxicated unlicensed drivers at DUI checkpoints.

Under the new policy, which is expected to go into effect in a few weeks, unlicensed drivers who have auto insurance, valid identification and no previous citations for unlicensed driving will no longer face a 30-day hold when their cars are impounded. The new policy allows registered owners to collect their vehicles from impound immediately as long as they bring along a licensed driver. They would pay the regular storage fee of $38.50 per day plus a one-time fee of $228. If a licensed driver is in the car or can arrive immediately, the car might not be impounded at all.