Honey, don't take the car -- they'll impound it

As our Frank Stoltze has reported, the union representing LAPD officers has filed a grievance against the department over its new rules about impounding cars from unlicensed drivers.  The Police Protective League claims the new protocol violates the state vehicle code.

Up until a month ago, those impounds were common, and typically nailed illegal immigrants.  Immigrant rights activists complained that otherwise law-abiding residents were losing their ability to get to work, as they often couldn’t afford to get their cars back.  In response, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck decided to allow a car to be picked up from the scene of the stop by the registered owner of the vehicle, or a licensed driver designated by the owner.

The union argues that the new policy threatens public safety by not continuing the practice of discouraging unlicensed and, presumably, uninsured motorists from driving.  Tuesday morning on AirTalk, the President of the union also argued that officers might be legally liable for accidents caused by unlicensed drivers who are immediately given the car back by the registered owner.

Though there was some listener support expressed for the new policy, there was overwhelming criticism of Chief Beck’s decision.  You can read the comments on the AirTalk page related to this segment.

Do you think it’s fair for an unlicensed driver to have his/her car impounded, if the registered owner can come pick it up?  Is it better for public safety to make it more difficult for unlicensed drivers to have access to cars?

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