Police will face new restrictions on impounding the vehicles of unlicensed drivers caught at sobriety checkpoints under a law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. The governor, however, vetoed a sister bill by Assemblyman Michael Allen that would have placed limits on the hours of DUI checkpoints and required law enforcement agencies to announce the exact locations in advance.
A bill by Assemblyman Michael Allen that would set uniform rules for operating DUI checkpoints is stirring controversy. One provision would require police to publicize the specific location of checkpoints at least two hours in advance. The provision, Allen says, would ensure the checkpoints comply with a 1987 Supreme Court ruling. But he also says there is a perception the checkpoints are currently being misused to impound immigrants’ vehicles and raise revenues for law enforcement agencies. Should Gov. Jerry Brown sign the bill?
An early warning requirement for DUI checkpoints pushed by a Santa Rosa legislator has encountered stiff resistance from local police officials. The bill would require police to announce the exact location of DUI checkpoints two hours before they are held. It also would require 48-hour notification of a checkpoint’s general location.
UPDATE 2:45 PM: The state Assembly on Friday approved a North Coast lawmaker’s bill that would set statewide guidelines for sobriety checkpoints. The measure, written by Assemblyman Michael Allen, D-Santa Rosa, would impose limits on when officers can impound a vehicle for 30 days.
Civil liberties groups contend that dozens of sobriety checkpoints throughout California have been used to generate impoundment fees rather than arrest drunken drivers. They support a proposed law by Assemblyman Michael Allen, which would codify two court rulings in an attempt to restrict the inspections to their intended purpose of stopping drunken driving.
Sonoma County’s law enforcement leaders are moving to unite policies that direct officers when to impound the vehicles of people whose only offense is driving without a license for the first time. The change has reignited debate about how police can promote traffic safety while thousands of undocumented immigrants who live and work in the county are driving, even though they are barred from taking driving tests and getting licenses.
A statewide law-enforcement committee might soon be issuing an advisory policy that could drastically reduce the number of vehicles impounded from unlicensed drivers.
The aggressive stance toward DUI enforcement in Sonoma County is drawing both praise and criticism. Besides probation searches and warrant checks, a police task force is conducting checkpoints and undercover court stings. Some say it’s saving lives while others question the group’s motivation.
The hot-button issue of impounding cars at DUI checkpoints shows no sign of letting up as PD readers continue to voice their thoughts on the controversial practice. Where do you stand?