Pending California DUI Legislation Split into Two

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A bill introduced by Santa Rosa Assemblyman Michael Allen, that would have restricted police officers ability to impound cars at DUI checkpoints, has undergone a change of language. The provision banning impounding of cars belonging to unlicensed drivers at DUI checkpoints has been dropped from the legislation. Assembly Bill 138 now simply contains a provision that police give the public 48 hours notice of a DUI checkpoint, and requires DUI checkpoints around California to be conducted uniformly.

However, the impounding provision has been shifted to another bill. That bill, AB 353, would limit the impounding of vehicles of unlicensed drivers pulled over at DUI checkpoints in certain situations. Cars that have not been used in a crime would not be impounded. For purposes of impoundment, being driven by an unlicensed driver would not be considered a crime.

A person who is driving without a license can choose to have his car driven away by a licensed driver like a friend or relative. Additionally, a car may not be impounded if a police officer can find a way to park the car in a spot that was not impeded by traffic. Under California's current laws, a police officer can impound a vehicle and arrest a driver if he's driving without a valid license. Los Angeles DUI lawyers have found these laws unfair to their principal targets those from ethnic minorities and low income groups.

According to Assemblyman Allen, he introduced this bill after becoming aware of the growing hardships faced by people, especially those in Hispanic communities, who lost their vehicles after they were impounded at DUI checkpoints. The drivers had their vehicles impounded because they were driving with a suspended or expired license, not because they were driving under the influence. When their vehicles were impounded, these people had no way of getting their vehicle released because they couldn't afford the fee. Having ta vehicle impounded leads to serious consequences, making it difficult to go to work and school.