Calif. bill would protect unlicensed drivers from arrest

But for families who have lost loved ones because of unlicensed drivers, the bill would endanger everyone who uses the roads.

Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, seeks to change procedures at drunken-driving checkpoints.

A bill loaded with immigration politics and potential implications for highway safety has landed on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

The legislation by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, would change police procedures at drunken-driving checkpoints, prohibiting officers from arresting drivers and immediately impounding their cars if their only offense is not having a license.

Supporters say the bill, AB353, would impose a consistent policy statewide – some agencies confiscate unlicensed drivers’ cars now, and some do not – while keeping DUI checkpoints from being turned into traps for otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants who cannot obtain licenses.

“In most parts of California, you basically have to have a car,” said Mark Silverman, director of immigration policy at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. “You have to be able to drive to survive, to get anywhere. Because of that, the truth is, immigrant drivers without licenses will be driving anyway because of the necessity. The towing of cars will not stop people from driving.”


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