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California looks to change law regarding driver’s license and car impoundments

Rolling closer to passage is California AB 353 a bill seeking to allow those driving without a valid driver’s license (either suspended or unable to obtain one due to legal status) to prevent impoundment of their vehicles.

Currently state law mandates drivers caught, usually at safety checkpoints, are written up and their cars impounded for up to 30 days. Authors of AB 353 contend that illegal immigrants and the Latino population in general are more susceptible to losing their impounded vehicles altogether. (The fines and fees can cost more than the car is worth).

Gil Cedillo, (Democrat from Los Angeles and whose campaign treasurer, Kinde Durkee was arrested over the weekend by the FBI for political-related fraud), claims that police impound unlicensed driver’s vehicles to raise additional money- something that places an undue burden on Latino families.

AB 353 co-sponsor Michael Allen (D- Santa Rosa) contends; “Checkpoints in some communities have veered off course from the intended purpose, placing more emphasis on impounding the vehicles of sober, unlicensed drivers than on removing the most dangerous drivers from our roads. AB 353, in partnership with my bill, AB 1389, will clarify the original intent of the Legislature — as well as cities, counties and law enforcement — with regard to impoundments and help peace officers devote more time, energy and resources toward deterring and catching intoxicated drivers.”
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Hispanic activists’ contend illegal aliens are unfairly targeted and receive the lion’s share of traffic infractions. They also note that these Hispanics earn significantly less than their counterparts and are unable to pay the costly impound fees that can exceed the car’s value.

However, those on the other-side of the aisle believe unlicensed drivers need to pay the price for unlawfully operating a vehicle.

“If we lower this standard, what we are doing is encouraging more people without driver’s licenses to be on the roads,” said Joel Anderson (R-San Diego and just named the recipient of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) ‘Legislator of the Year’ Award). There is a reason they don’t have a driver’s license. It’s not because they are a good driver.”

Anti-immigration activists also warned that the legislation would remove a big deterrent to illegal immigrants driving without a license.

“It seems if there is a law that inconveniences illegal aliens, they [legislators] are willing to change it,” Ira Mehlman, a Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) spokesperson said.

Escondido Police Chief Jim Maher echoes Anderson’s statement that impounding vehicles are a consequence of breaking the law. “We are a rule-of-law city. The traffic-related crime statistics continue to fall by significant numbers in our city. These safety/sobriety checkpoints are working. It’s why the majority of residents aren’t complaining.”

The proposed law would allow drivers to call a family member or friend who is legally licensed to drive to take the vehicle home without paying fines. Proponents of AB 353 also say these checkpoints are set-up as a way to make money for the police departments.

“That notion is ridiculous our traffic safety statistics don’t lie. Our streets are safer because we enforce the law,” Maher finished.

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© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Continue reading on California looks to change law regarding driver’s license and car impoundments – San Diego County Political Buzz |

Driving Into Chaos

By Kimberly Dvorak

San Diego – Driving in Southern California on any given day can be a minefield. Throw in unlicensed drivers and you have a recipe for chaos.

Illegal aliens find themselves in a catch 22 when they attempt to navigate the highways. What are Californians’ to do? Escondido police Chief Jim Maher believes the Department of Motor Vehicles should give those living in the shadows a driver’s license.

He contends that at the very least they would be required to read the traffic signs, pass a state driving test and procure insurance.

Sounds great.

Except proponents like Federation for American Immigration Reform F.A.I.R argue issuing state identification rewards breaking the law and doesn’t keep anyone from canceling the insurance coverage the very next day.

Currently the U.S. government only employs the U.S. passport as a universal identification document. However, many Americans never obtain a passport, leaving drivers licenses as their sole identification method.

This leaves many in a state of influx and perplexed about the growing concern when it comes to protecting Americans in a post 9/11 world.

All of the 9/11 hijackers had a drivers license. All made it through airport security. All were able to find residences with their driver’s licenses as identification.

This tactic of giving those living in the country illegally drivers licenses cost former California Gov. Gray Davis his job. Shortly after he signed the bill into law, a massive recall effort for Davis ensued and he lost his job.

After the 9/11 Commission Report came out, politicians in Washington jumped on board to pass the Real ID Act in early 2005.

The Real ID Act provisions established national standards for the issuance of driver’s licenses and barred people living in the country illegally from obtaining an ID that could be used to say, vote, drive or enroll in flight school.

Other groups that would be barred from obtaining a license are people with ties to terrorist organizations and political asylum immigrants. The Real ID Act also determined it was essential for the completion of the border security fence.

There is no doubt that the immigration issue in this country is in a quagmire. Moving forward is going to be contentious with sides being taken. But there will be a debate later this year and it would behoove all citizens to study what the ramifications will be for this national reform issue. Americans need to examine how this will impact their daily lives.

Commencing in June Congress will take up the discussion of the Real ID Act. This Homeland security issue will be put on the floor in a different form for the politicians to vote on.

Now that the numbers have shifted in Congress, a new bill known as the PASS ID Act is floating around. This bill would roll back all the security improvements made since 2005.

According to some Congress members this new bill will pave the way for granting a general amnesty to illegal aliens. After reading the draft version of the new bill, one can see it will force all states to issue drivers licenses to all illegal aliens.

Do we really want to make it easier for potential terrorists to integrate into our country again?

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