CHP sidesteps feds to continue 30-day tows | News – Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield, California 2021-09-19 19:30:00 –

Four years after the Federal Court of Appeals ruled that 30-day vehicle reservoirs for unlicensed drivers were unconstitutional, several law enforcement agencies throughout California are still doing so.

The California Highway Patrol, one of the state’s busiest towers, remains in custody for 30 days and refuses early release, despite court rulings and warnings of authorities’ own policy experts’ practices. .. Email and court documents.

CHP’s seizure policy is currently being attacked by at least three proceedings, with state police seizing and maintaining people’s property in violation of Article 4 of the Constitutional Amendment, which protects the public from unjustified searches and seizures. Claims to be.

A 30-day foreclosure can be a costly punishment for some drivers arrested without a valid license. They are often poor Californians and have lost their criminal licenses, from missing traffic courts to lack of insurance and drunk driving.

“Given who the victims are, the 30-day reservoir is popular with many,” said Los Angeles lawyer Donald Cook, who is suing CHP for towing practices. “I want to discourage unlicensed drivers from driving a car, but that’s not the way to do it.

“You give them a ticket and get their car off the street, you can criminal accusate them and convict them,” he said. “But you don’t dispose of their property in bulk.”

Discouraging unlicensed drivers from holding the steering wheel is a top priority for law enforcement agencies, drivers, and lawmakers, and according to a federal government survey, they account for 19 percent of fatal accidents nationwide. Occupy. However, according to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, dealing with these drivers is also a balancing act, immediately protecting drivers from unsafe drivers and at the same time protecting people from the reservoirs of pulled out cars. ..

In California, it’s especially complicated.

Towing at the towing site

Since 1995, state law has allowed police to detain cars from unlicensed drivers for 30 days, and despite a 2017 federal ruling, the law remains on the books.

Cal Matters discovered that this resulted in a patchwork of enforcement practices. Whether an unlicensed driver’s vehicle is confiscated usually depends on where the person stopped.

For example, many Los Angeles County Sheriffs have told Cal Matters that they are still using the reservoir for 30 days, but spokespersons have no government-wide policy.

The Los Angeles Police Department, the state’s largest law enforcement agency, stopped the practice in 2020, a spokesman said. Police in San Francisco and San Jose have stopped using the 30-day reservoir for unlicensed drivers, their department said. Four years ago, the California Cities Federation advised cities to change their 30-day hold policy to “avoid potential liability.”

However, a quote for driving without a license along the vast California highways prescribed by CHP could end up with a quote that has been out of the car for 30 days and has a towing fee of well over $ 1,000. CHP does not charge its own towing fees, but contracts with companies throughout the state.

From January 2017 to July 2021, the year of the court’s decision, CHP police ordered more than 50,000 30-day towings for unlicensed drivers, according to a Cal Matters analysis of towing data. These reservoirs make up about 7% of all CHP tow.

Angeli Counterlan’s 2000 Grand Am was one of them.

Untalan, then 25, lived in one of the largest cities in the country. Still, she did not have a driver’s license and had been suspended many times, but was not towed, and fines and court subpoenas remained, court records show.

In May 2019, a South Los Angeles CHP officer stopped Untaran because his windshield was cracked and he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, according to a federal lawsuit filed in Los Angeles that same year.

According to CHP data obtained through a request from the Public Records Act, Untaran was searched and quoted, and her car was taken to the California Motor Club’s towyard for a 30-day stay. That day, Untalan’s Grand Am is one of six 30-day reservoirs ordered by CHP officers in South Los Angeles, and data show in 29 across the state.

Almost two weeks later, officials agreed to release the car after Untaran’s lawyer signed the form, according to a proceeding and document filed by Cook. lawyer. The car was charged for 11 days, but Untalan couldn’t afford it, and the lawsuit said her car was sold at Lien Sale about a month later. She borrowed about $ 2,000.

Untalan declined an interview with Cal Matters.

“What they are doing is ridiculous,” said Cook, who recently won summary judgment on behalf of Untaran. CHP is fascinating.

“”[It] It’s incompatible with the way things are done, as it really violates the basic and basic concepts of due process, “he said.

Through a spokesperson, the CHP refused to comment on the proceedings or the authorities’ 30-day towing policy on the grounds of “in progress proceedings.”

Impound Policy CHP Flip-Flop

However, since the federal ruling in 2017, government policymakers have sent various messages.

Six days after the court’s ruling, Chris Lane, commander of the Investigation Planning Department, emailed several staff members, “… we know (the ruling), but there is no change in policy at this time.” I did.

By 2020, the message from that office had changed.

The agency’s vehicle procedure expert, Justin Sherwood, advised officers on the internal email reservoir. On July 23, 2020, Sherwood told CHP’s fellow employees that the court’s decision “essentially made it impossible to deny early release unless ordered by the court …” ..

In another internal email on September 30, 2020, Sherwood wrote: … I don’t want to be a man at the front counter who soaks his office in hot water! “

However, in the proceedings, CHP lawyers allege that the traction for about 30 days has not been clearly established and that Untalan’s proceedings are not fully compatible with the Court of Appeals’ decision. Authorities’ lawyers also claimed a limited immunity to prevent civil servants from being sued to enforce California law.

“It doesn’t surprise me that CHP is still trying to defend their position, but … (the Court of Appeals decision) makes me nervous about it,” said UC Hastings College of Law. Rory Little said. Professor and constitutional expert.

The move was foretold in several news reports as a clear crackdown on state law when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the 30-day towing of unlicensed drivers.

The reality was more opaque. If the law was constitutional, the court declined to answer. Instead, a committee of three judges allows police to tow a vehicle from an unlicensed driver in an emergency situation, but holding a person’s vehicle for 30 days is a seizure, fourth We have determined that we need to comply with the Amendment.

“The overall question of whether it’s a fair penalty is still in the air,” Little said.

Proponents of keeping the law intact said policies are needed to prevent unlicensed drivers.

Lieutenant Dustin Silva of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office said the 30-day reservoir “is a necessary tool used by law enforcement agencies to prevent and prevent property damage, injuries and deaths associated with road accidents.” Said.

“According to research, expired and unlicensed drivers are disproportionately involved in road accidents and can only continue driving by removing access to the vehicle,” Silva said. I’m saying in an email.

For example, a 2012 study by the California Department of Motor Vehicles reported that a 30-day reservoir reduced collisions with unlicensed repetitive drivers by 38%.

Punish the poor?

Last year, Francisco Gomez Lopez, then 26, said his license was suspended after many drunk driving. It didn’t stop him giving his wife, Yakelin Ordonez, her car lift to her mid-term exam at California State University, Los Angeles. She said she would normally take a bus, but that day she overslept. She said Ordonez didn’t have a license either, but she was practicing for a driving test.

On his way home, Lopez drove without a license and was stopped by a CHP police officer for not having his wife’s registered drinking detector attached to his car. I wasn’t drinking that day, but a ticket was issued and my wife’s car was confiscated. CHP refused to release the car to a licensed driver early, and Ordonez decided to file a proceeding.

“I understand the fact that they robbed his driver’s license. He isn’t supposed to drive,” Ordonez said. “I don’t understand why they had to steal a car for so long.”

Thirty days later, Ordonez paid Brian’s Toledo Towing Service $ 2,350 for the 2009 Toyota Matrix, according to court documents.

“After that, we were left with zero dollars,” Ordonez said.

California storage costs an average of $ 53 a day, according to reports on how towing practices punish poor Californians. Considering fees and administration costs, a 30-day savings can cost around $ 2,000.

Rachel Stein, a lawyer at Public Counsel, a law firm in Los Angeles, who worked on one of the federal proceedings, said: “It’s just punitive and seems to be another way to criminalize poverty.”

Troublesome past

The law allowing 30-day reservoirs, which came into force in 1995, has been controversial from the beginning.

At that time, the bill’s authors advertised this policy as a way to protect the public from dangerous drivers. Proponents saw it as a way to target undocumented Californians who couldn’t be licensed drivers at the time.

Some cities stopped implementing 30-day reservoirs a few years ago. For example, Bell Gardens and Huntington Park shut down their reservoirs in 2007 after complaints that Tow was unfairly targeting immigrants.

The local government developed its own policy on how to enforce the law, but the legislature did not break the law from the book. Instead, they trimmed around it.

The state cracked down after a Southern California police station was found using drunk driving checkpoints to target unlicensed drivers and fill the city’s financial resources.

In 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed a law limiting the amount of time police could detain a vehicle at a drunken checkpoint. It ended many 30-day reservoirs at checkpoints, but in other cases left them intact.

The final decision may take some time as the legality of the compulsory 30-day reservoir is demonstrated in court.

The Ordonez jury trial is scheduled for early next year.

Judge Otis D. Wraith II of the US District Court, who ruled in favor of driver Angelica Untalan last month, said police officers “prolonged the seizures for no good reason.” By not releasing her car when she appeared with a licensed driver, Untalan’s “right to fourth amendment was violated as a matter of law,” the judge wrote.

The third proceeding in the Los Angeles Superior Court also challenges CHP’s policy.

“Lawyers are trained to find ways to avoid obstacles to the interests of our clients,” said Little at UC Hastings College of Law.

“And I always say … there is no final decision to solve anything.”

Meanwhile, CHP has been in the reservoir for 30 days. As of July 31, police officers ordered more than 6,000 towing vehicles this year from El Centro near the Mexican border to Ireka near Oregon.

CHP sidesteps feds to continue 30-day tows | News Source link CHP sidesteps feds to continue 30-day tows | News

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