Unlicensed drivers protected from impounds

FRESNO, Calif.

The Fresno Police Department conducts 75 DUI checkpoints every year. Police Chief Jerry Dyer says while law enforcement agencies across the state currently have the right to immediately impound cars from unlicensed drivers, his department has their own policy in place.

Jerry Dyer said, "We will give that person the opportunity to have another licensed driver take possession of the car, but we do not and have not waited for extended periods of time for that person to come."

Under AB 353, officers now have to wait longer. If a qualified driver isn't available, they can impound the car, but must release it as soon as someone shows up.

Under the current law, a car can be impounded for up to thirty days. That's thirty days of impound fees that can quickly add up, especially if the driver is poor.

Jerry Dyer said, "The simple fact is, we've been operating very close to what this law says, so I don't foresee this having much of an impact in terms of revenue."

John Decicco disagrees. He runs Action Towing, and says not only will the city lose money, but so will he.

John Decicco said, "It's about 145 dollars a car. That you guys receive? Right. And some of that goes back to the city, so we're gonna lose a considerable amount of money."

Supporters of the bill argue cities like Fresno often use sobriety checkpoints to make money by impounding cars from people, like illegal immigrants who can't afford to get them back. Activist, Gloria Hernandez worked to get the law passed.

Gloria Hernandez said, "We were submitting letters of support and petitions so I think it's fantastic."

Ultimately, she hopes AB 353 will pave the way, for more immigration reform.

The law goes into effect January first.

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