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LAPD examines unlicensed-driver impound rule

February 14, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
If you're caught driving without a license in Los Angeles, you could lose your car to an impound lot for a month. The LAPD wants a new policy that is more lenient.

Under the old and still current LAPD rules someone caught driving without a license could lose their car to the impound lot for 30 days. The proposed new rules would allow that same unlicensed driver to get the car back and start driving it again the next day.

Los Angeles Police Commissioners heard the details for the first time Tuesday.

"What's going on in the field right now is sort of all over the lot with respect to what impound statute should be is," said Richard Drooyan, president of the L.A. Board of Police Commissioners.

The new regulations would do away with the 30-day impound under certain circumstances

The circumstances for not holding the vehicle include:

  • Valid identification
  • Proof of insurance
  • Current vehicle registration
  • No at-fault collisions
  • No prior conviction for driving without a license

Allowing an unlicensed driver back behind the wheel within hours is controversial.

The LAPD has been searching for a way to enforce the impound laws with some consistency and fairness. Unlicensed drivers who lose their transportation often can't work or care for their families.

"What we're doing now is going to mitigate that," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. "It's going to make that class of driver a little safer by the fact that it encourages them to have insurance, it encourages them to have identification, it encourages them not to drive regularly unlicensed."

Based on what was heard Tuesday the police commissioners are leaning toward accepting the new impound rules. But they won't be taking a vote for at least two weeks.