The Los Angeles Police Commission today voted to support a controversial new policy proposed by Police Chief Charlie Beck that reduces penalties for some unlicensed drivers who have their cars towed and impounded. Under the new policy, drivers can avoid the previously mandatory 30-day impound by showing valid identification, car registration, and proof of insurance.
Penalties for drivers at fault in an accident or who had their licenses suspended, revoked, or had been caught previously driving without a license have not been altered. Because undocumented immigrants are not allowed to apply for licenses at all, any legislation impacting unlicensed drivers also impacts undocumented residents who get behind the wheel.
Lawyers and activists with the National Lawyers Guild, the Southern California Immigration Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union argued that harsh punishments for unlicensed driving discriminate against illegal immigrants. The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing rank-and-file officers, reportedly opposes the changes.
Did the previous LAPD impound policy for unlicensed drivers discriminate against illegal immigrants? Should the legal repercussions for illegal immigrants even be considered throughout the policy-making process?
Frank Stoltze, KPCC reporter who covered this morning’s Police Commission meeting