Patt Morrison for September 12, 2011

Bill would change DUI checkpoint procedure to prevent arrests of illegal immigrants

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California Highway Patrol officer Mark Rossetti administers a breathalizer test to a man at a sobriety checkpoint.

Targeting illegal immigrants’ rights and traffic safety, Assemblyman Gil Cedillo’s new bill would change police procedures at drunk-driving checkpoints to prohibit officers from arresting drivers and immediately impounding their cars if their only offense is driving without a license.

Advocates of the bill say current DUI checkpoint policy singles out illegal immigrants for punishment, which often entails fines they are unable to pay. Opponents of the bill say it would endanger drivers, allowing drivers without licenses to stay on the road. Supporters say the law would clarify policy, which already varies from city to city and would prevent local governments from taking a cut from towing and storage fees when cars are impounded at DUI checkpoints. The bill would require police officers to make an effort to find either the registered owner of the unlicensed driver’s car or a licensed driver authorized to pick up the car at the checkpoint. Drivers without licenses could still be cited but not arrested. Do unintended consequences of the current law unfairly target illegal immigrants? Is this an issue of immigration politics or highway safety?

Guests:

Vivian Ho, staff writer for the San Francisco chronicle

Mark Silverman, director of immigration policy at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center


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