Just a few weeks ago, the Los Angeles Police Department had proposed implementing new car impound procedures that would have allowed unlicensed drivers pulled over at checkpoints, to have their car driven away by a licensed driver. The proposals had been welcomed by Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys, who have been concerned about the effect that these widespread impoundments have on unlicensed drivers- mostly undocumented immigrants with no other means of transport. However, the Los Angeles Police Department has now tightened those requirements.
Under the new proposal, unlicensed drivers who have been pulled over at checkpoints can have an licensed driver pick up their car. However, these motorists must not have been involved in an accident, and must provide proper identification and insurance documents in order to avoid impoundment. They must also not have any previous convictions for driving without a license.
The proposed changes were announced in December, but the changes at the time included less rigorous rules. Under those rules, unlicensed drivers were allowed to ask friends who had a license to drive the car away from a checkpoint. Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers believe that the new restrictions will result in higher numbers of impoundments.
Many undocumented immigrants do not have insurance, and may not possess identification. The identification papers that are acceptable under the new rules include consular identification certificates, Mexican matricula and birth certificates. People who don't have these papers may not be able to avoid impoundment.
Additionally, even motorists who already have insurance and identification could still have their cars impounded if they have been pulled over for driving without a license in the past. California does not allow undocumented immigrants to obtain licenses, which means that an unlicensed driver's chances of being pulled over for unlicensed driving are fairly high.