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Crime & Justice

LAPD Chief Beck: Yes to driver's licenses for illegal immigrants

An impounded car.
An impounded car.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck says California should issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, the L.A. Times reports.

This follows previous efforts by Beck to offer less harsh punishments for drivers caught driving without a license, as Beck feels that impound laws have unfairly affected illegal immigrants.

"My personal belief is that they should be able to," Beck said in a meeting with Times reporters and editorial writers. He said that what California has done so far to reduce the problem of illegal immigrants driving without licenses hasn't worked.

"When something doesn't work over and over and over again, my view is that you should reexamine it to see if there is another way that makes more sense," Beck told the Times.

Beck did say that he doesn't believe it should be the same as a regular license, and also that concerns that it could make it easier for terrorists to go undetected need to be addressed.

Beck argued that offering these licenses would improve safety on California roads and help police identify people. "When you make things illegal you cause a lot of other things by chain reaction."

What would these licenses change? One example Beck gave was that he expected the number of hit-and-run accidents would go down because illegal immigrant drivers wouldn't have to leave the scene of an accident due to fears of being caught without a license.

The legality of Beck's proposed impound policy changes is currently under review. Beck's proposal would allow drivers to retrieve their cars the next day instead of paying fines and waiting for a 30-day hold.