LAPD changes policy on impounding cars of unlicensed drunk drivers

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) announced that it has made revisions to its vehicle impound protocols during sobriety checkpoint operations.

Now, people identified by the police as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) who do not have a driver's license will have the opportunity to avoid automatic impoundment of their cars.

If you do not have a license and the LAPD determines that you are drunk when they stop you at a sobriety checkpoint - or they simply discover that you are driving without a license - they will allow you to turn the car over to the owner - that is, the person who registered the vehicle. That is, as long as that person has a valid driver's license and is there or can get to the checkpoint within a reasonable amount of time.

If the car is registered in your name and you do not have a license, you may authorize the release of the vehicle to a licensed driver who is present at the location where you were stopped for a DUI. The unlicensed driver will be issued a ticket by the police.

If you do not have a licensed driver who can take possession of the car for you, the vehicle will be impounded by the LAPD.

This new LAPD policy benefits undocumented immigrants who are driving without a license. Previously, police seized cars at sobriety stops for the simple fact that the driver did not have a license, even if he or she was not driving under the influence of alcohol. They also did not give the driver a chance to get the car back without first paying large towing fees, fines, and vehicle recovery fees.

According to figures obtained by the newspaper La OpiniónIn 2010, Los Angeles police seized more than 73,800 cars in sobriety stops and routine arrests.

The new measure will be adopted exclusively for breathalyzer controls. This means that there is still a possibility that the police will confiscate your car if you are stopped during a traffic violation. Drivers with revoked or suspended licenses will also not be able to avoid having their cars impounded.