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La Opinión: Reform LA's Car Impound Policy

Posted: Dec 23, 2011

Millions of undocumented immigrants who work in California do not have driver’s licenses. This creates an unusual situation that individuals and cities should not take advantage of to make money.

Therefore, we believe in the need for a change like the one Mayor Villaraigosa proposed: Reforming the city’s current vehicle impound policy, which calls for a 30-day hold and a $1,500 fine to retrieve the vehicle.

The Los Angeles Police Commission is currently analyzing a modification that would basically allow licensed drivers to retrieve cars taken from people without criminal convictions on the same day.

It is to be expected that the auto towing industry—which has benefitted financially and abused the long impound periods—will oppose the change. Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) is also opposing this reform. Even worse, they are using a recent tragedy (a pedestrian being run over by an undocumented immigrant) to promote a false safety agenda.

We think that in reality, the LAPPL should support driver’s permits for the undocumented, if they are really interested in road safety. Not only would there be records about those who are driving, but they can also be required to have car insurance.

The current impound policy punishes those driving without a license, but it does not deter offenders who need to work and lack public transportation.

On the other hand, it would also be unfair for the Police Commission’s decision to be based on the loss of revenue the change in vehicle impounds would mean to the city. Squeezing the undocumented is not a valid policy.

Laws and regulations are there to be respected. However, they should also change when they are unfair or do not fulfill their original intent. Given the current situation, municipal rules for impounding cars should change.

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