On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Police Commission, in a 4-to-1 vote, approved a plan that will limit the cases in which police officers impound vehicles of drivers without a license.
Under the new terms, unlicensed drivers who are stopped and meet several requirements, including having auto insurance, a valid form of I.D. and no previous citations will have their cars impounded but will be able to pick up their cars sooner if they’re accompanied by a licensed driver. Currently unlicensed drivers see their cars impounded for 30 days with fines that can exceed $1,200.
The commission called the decision an act of “humanity” and “compassion” toward the city’s undocumented immigrants who are not eligible to apply for a license in the state of California, according to the LA Times.
“In approving LAPD Chief Charlie Beck’s proposal for modified car impound procedures, the Los Angeles Police Commission took a stand on the side of fairness and justice for the immigrant community,” said Angelica Salas, executive director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).
California’s undocumented immigrant population is the largest in the nation with an 2.6 million residing in Los Angeles county.
A AAA study found that the number of unlicensed drivers who were ineligible for a license and were involved in fatal crashes was 5% between 2007 and 2009.
Utah, Washington and New Mexico are the only states in the nation that allow residents to access driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status.