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- 05-31-2012, 11:48 PM #1
CA - Distraught Father Fights Bill That Lets Unlicensed Drivers Keep Their Cars
By Albert Samaha Thu., May 31 2012 at 8:08 AM
California State Assembly Bill 1993, introduced by San Francisco Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, would prohibit police officers from impounding or towing an unlicensed person's car if the car can be parked nearby or if a licensed driver can come and pick it up.
The idea behind the bill is that the current automatic 30-day impound penalty for unlicensed driving disproportionately punishes undocumented immigrants, who are not able to get a driver's license, and low-income people, who often lose their cars because they are unable to pay the impound fee. The practice has already been adopted in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and Los Angeles.
But Don Rosenberg, whose 25-year-old son was killed by an unlicensed driver in November 2010, doesn't buy that argument.
"I understand your compassion for the hardship that not being able to get licensed causes these people," he wrote in a letter to Ma. "However, jeopardizing the lives, safety, and welfare of the law-abiding for those who have made a choice to illegally come to the United States is just wrong."
He cited his own experience:
On June 14, 2010, Roberto Galo was caught driving the wrong way on a one way street, driving without a license and driving without insurance. His car was impounded, only because he couldn't get a licensed driver to come pick it up. Less than 24 hours later he had his car back and continued to drive. On November 16, 2010 at the corner of Harrison and 16th street in San Francisco he struck and killed my son driving back and forth over his body 3 times trying to escape.
Indeed, though unlicensed drivers comprise 5 percent of the driving population, they are involved in 18 percent of fatal crashes, according to a AAA study released in November. And those crashes are far more likely to involve a driver who has never been licensed than a driver whose license was suspended or revoked.
This can create legal liabilities for cities, say opponents of the bill.
If an unlicensed driver gets pulled over, keeps his car, then gets into an accident, the municipality might be sued -- this happened to Solano County after an licensed driver, weeks removed from a traffic stop, crashed into a man's trailer.
The 30-day penalty, Rosenberg and others argue, is a just deterrent against unlicensed driving. For every unlicensed driver who can't afford to reclaim his car, there will be one less unlicensed driver on the road. This is the Los Angeles police union's stance, and it sued the department over the policy.
The issue, at least for those sympathetic to undocumented immigrants, is whether the 30-day impound penalty improves road safety to such an extent that justifies the hardship it throws at those immigrants. Ma argues that getting caught without a license shouldn't be much different than most other traffic violations, like lack of insurance or speeding, which amounts to a citation or a fix-it ticket.
While opponents of the bill claim that this is a step toward condoning unlicensed driving, it's inescapably an immigration quandary. In a sense, it is a conscious step in the opposite direction of Arizona and Alabama. While those states are going out of their way to make undocumented immigrants' lives worse, California would be going out of its way to make undocumented immigrants' lives better.
There are solutions outside of this particular legislative debate. Some opponents of this bill have declared that the win-win scenario is to let undocumented immigrants get driver's licenses.
One Old Vet
Distraught Father Fights Bill That Lets Unlicensed Drivers Keep Their Cars - San Francisco News - The SnitchWe have immigration laws that just need to be enforced.
- 06-01-2012, 12:16 AM #2
- Join Date
- Apr 2012
I understand how the father feels, and time will not change how he feels. Impounding the car for 30 days likely was meant to signal "Time to return home, life may be easier." Now this bleeding heart legislator wants to provide ease for them, bah humbug!!!!
- 06-01-2012, 05:48 AM #3
There is still a problem with unlicensed drivers even if their car is impounded - they simply go out and buy another junker and continue to drive."A Nation of sheep will beget a government of Wolves" -Edward R. Murrow
- 06-02-2012, 11:57 PM #4
INGA BARKS: Car impound restrictions would endanger us all
BY INGA BARKS Contributing columnist | Friday, Jun 01 2012 08:39 PM
Last Updated Friday, Jun 01 2012 08:41 PM
My brother was in a car accident at Real Road and California Avenue back in the late '80s. He was coming off the freeway and heading straight down Real and the car that hit him was turning left onto California, ignoring right-of-way laws and barreling right into my brother.
I was living in the Oleander area at the time and was on my way home down California when I happened upon my brother, lying in the street being treated by paramedics. He was OK, barring a concussion and some bumps.
The driver in the other car was fine as well. He was also undocumented, uninsured and unlicensed. And if the California Legislature is successful in a new campaign to protect illegal immigrants without licenses, my brother's story might be more common.
With this week's introduction of AB 1993 by state Assemblywoman FIona Ma, law enforcement in California would be unable to impound vehicles from unlicensed drivers, as is currently the practice. They would instead give the unlicensed driver the opportunity to call a friend or family member who is licensed to come and drive the car home.
I'd like to say that on its face this law at least seems compassionate. Supporters say that impounding a car leaves the driver unable to get to work, and the fees are oftentimes too expensive for the working poor to afford. Of course, the law does nothing to address the fact that unlicensed drivers are unlicensed, meaning they haven't proven that they know a stop sign from a loading zone.
In saying that an impounded car makes it harder for the driver to get to work, lawmakers basically admit that they fully expect the driver to drive illegally again! And while Sacramento has complete sympathy for the poor bloke who can't afford the impound fee or needs to get to work, they've unsympathetically increased fines for talking or texting while driving, parking in handicapped spots, among other infractions.
But there's one more thing about this law that is worth mentioning because the lawmakers freely admit it: This law to protect unlicensed drivers is specifically for the benefit of undocumented immigrants. Why? Because they can't get a driver's license. Why? Because they aren't U.S. citizens. Why? Because they broke the law to get here. Why? Profit, the American dream, a better life for their kids. All the usual reasons, no doubt.
Now, I guess we could make this an argument for just giving a driver's license to undocumented immigrants. That way they'd at least have to prove they're proficient drivers. Or, we could put the impound fees on some kind of sliding scale based on income. Or we could enforce our laws and say that you should be a citizen to be licensed and you should be licensed to drive!
According to AAA, 5 percent of drivers in California are unlicensed, but they make up 18 percent of the car accidents. So what the legislature is saying by supporting this law is that it's OK with 18 out of every 100 car accidents involving a driver who may have recently avoided impound.
Our lawmakers show a complete disregard for public safety or federal immigration law. AND Assemblymember Ma and her cohorts are blatant about it! This law IS about ensuring that illegal immigrants are not punished for breaking the law because they have to get to a job they aren't legally supposed to have in the first place!
Sure, maybe YOU were blocking traffic and your car was impounded. Or maybe you were driving on a suspended license. Maybe you had outstanding tickets or you just never got around to renewing your license with the DMV. What if you also have a sob story about needing to get to work the next day? What if you can't afford the fines?
For the record, a few cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco already have impound laws that allow undocumented immigrants to avoid losing their cars. These policies are new so there's no measure of their success or failure, but logic dictates that if we turn a blind eye to unqualified drivers out of political pandering, the above statistic about 18 percent of car accidents involving the unlicensed will inevitably go up.
One Old Vet
INGA BARKS: Car impound restrictions would endanger us all - Bakersfield.comWe have immigration laws that just need to be enforced.