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Law Stops Car Impounds at DUI Checkpoints

Jessica Flores

Law Stops Car Impounds at DUI Checkpoints

CREATED Dec. 27, 2011

A new law starting this new year stops police from impounding cars of unlicensed drivers at DUI checkpoints.

"When we have an unlicensed driver come through our sobriety checkpoints and that's the only offense they are found to be committing, we are going to make reasonable efforts to find someone who can drive that vehicle," said California Highway Patrol Officer, Joe Zargoski.

Currently, if a driver is stopped without a license at a checkpoint, they are ticketed and their car is impounded for 30 days. The new law still allows police to issue tickets for driving without a license, but now police have to give the driver a chance to find a licensed driver to pick up the car.

"People who can't drive don't deserve the right to be on the road," said Sky Valley resident Ray Marek. "I do think they should impound the car," he said.

Hundreds of cars rolled up to checkpoints over the weekend in Riverside County. Police arrested one person for drunk driving. But mostly, police impounded cars of drivers without licenses.  For the sponsors behind the new law, that's the problem. California Assemblymember Gil Cedillo says that DUI checkpoints are being used to target  undocumented immigrants who don't have licenses.

"We should be focusing dollars on getting drunk drivers off the street. Instead they're focusing those dollars on impounding unlicensed drivers," said Conrad Terrazas, spokesperson for Assemblymember Cedillo.

If a licensed driver is unavailable, police can impound the cars of unlicensed drivers for one day. Currently, impounded cars are help for 30 days and usually cost more than a thousands dollars to retrieve.

"The fact that we are looking at anything other than DUI drivers is kind of obsurd. The only thing we look for at a sobriety check point is that every one has a valid license but more so that anyone isn't under the influence," said Zagorski.

Police aren't changing how they handle unlicensed drivers on the road. Police will still impound cars from unlicensed drivers pulled over on the road. Unlicensed drivers will still be ticketed, even at DUI checkpoints. The law rolls in January 1.

"I mean if it's a thing about DUI and alcohol then what has a persons license got to do with that?" said Silvester D'Souza of Cathedral City.

Jessica Flores, KMIR6 News.

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