California to Stop Towing Cars of Unlicensed Drivers

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D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook...

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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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A new law in California will prevent police from towing cars of drivers who don't have a license.

A new law in California will prevent police from towing cars of drivers who don’t have a license.

We’ve recently written a couple of resources on driver checkpoints set up by police and other law enforcement authorities. For the most part, police set up roadblocks and checkpoints simply to look for those who are driving under the influence of alcohol.

First, we looked at why police publish the exact locations and times they’ll be conducting such checkpoints. It does seem a bit counter-productive, but as we said at the time, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) demanded that police do so as part of their ruling on Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz.

In our second piece on the subject, we delved into the other things police are looking for besides drunk drivers. As we said then, they’re focused on: driving without a license, uninsured drivers, those with warrants for their arrest, failure to wear seat belts and any other crimes or violations they spot.

Driving without a license may not seem like a serious crime, and thanks to a new law in California, as of January 1, 2012, police will no longer be able to tow and impound cars where the only offense is driving without a license.

In the past, thousands of cars were towed in any given year in California for just that. Pundits claim the impounding of cars of those without a drivers license are aimed directly at, and unfairly target illegal immigrants. Only New Mexico, Utah and Washington issue drivers licenses to illegal aliens. The other 47 states won’t issue drivers licenses to those who’ve entered the United States without documentation.

What do you think? Should police be able to tow and impound cars for failure to have a drivers license? Or is the new law the right call?

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