[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]
In my column that ran on Tuesday on National Review Online, I addressed the recent confusion in the LAPD over impounding cars driven by unlicensed drivers, and I speculated on the motives behind the department’s brief moratorium on such impounds. I neglected to include in the column the sly and no doubt deliberately misleading choice of words used by the L.A. Times in covering the matter. In a September 12 story on the LAPD’s decision to lift the moratorium, Times writer Richard Winton wrote this:
[LAPD Chief William] Bratton had said last week that the moratorium would remain in effect until next Tuesday, when he would ask for minor changes to the department’s policy relating to the ability of officers to impound vehicles for 30 days, as state law allows. The practice has long been a contentious issue in debates over illegal immigration. [Emphasis mine.]
Winton is suggesting that officers have the option not to impound these cars. This is false. State law does not allow these cars to be impounded, it mandates it. Section 14602.6(a)(1) of the California Vehicle code reads as follows:
Whenever a peace officer determines that a person was driving a vehicle while his or her driving privilege was suspended or revoked, driving a vehicle while his or her driving privilege is restricted pursuant to Section 13352 or 23575 and the vehicle is not equipped with a functioning, certified interlock device, or driving a vehicle without ever having been issued a driver’s license, the peace officer may either immediately arrest that person and cause the removal and seizure of that vehicle or, if the vehicle is involved in a traffic collision, cause the removal and seizure of the vehicle without the necessity of arresting the person in accordance with Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 22650) of Division 11. A vehicle so impounded shall be impounded for 30 days. [Emphasis mine.]
Having failed to enact legislation granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, the open-borders lobby is trying to institute a de facto legalization through incremental changes to laws and policies. By implying that the LAPD has the option not to impound cars driven by unlicensed drivers, the L.A. Times is inviting public pressure to change its policy. But it’s not merely a matter of policy, it’s a matter of law.
— Jack Dunphy
UPDATE FROM PATTERICO: I’m not an expert on police procedure on this area, as I have never been called upon in court to justify or defend the impounding of a vehicle. But my initial reading of the quoted passage alone doesn’t convince me that it necessarily mandates impounding vehicles. It seems to say only that vehicles that are impounded, must be impounded for 30 days.
I’ll defer to Jack on the policies and practices of LAPD officers, and it may be that the law mandates impounding vehicles — whether through another statutory provision, or through a court interpretation of the above language. Again, I’m not familiar with this issue. I invite commentary from anyone who is.