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Changing Traffic Checkpoints Laws To Affect Escondido

Aired 12/19/11 on KPBS News.

A new state law that goes into effect in January will have a significant effect on cities like Escondido that impound cars for 30 days if the driver doesn’t have a license.

A new state law - AB 353 - that goes into effect in January will have a significant effect on cities like Escondido that impound cars for 30 days if the driver doesn’t have a license.

Traffic checkpoints are used to deter drunk driving, but impounding vehicles of drivers without a license has raised thousands in fees for cities, and cost illegal immigrants dearly.

A study by California Watch found Escondido has raised as much as $400,000 a year in fees from towing companies with city contracts.

The new law, however, prohibits police from impounding cars immediately if the unlicensed driver finds a licensed driver to pick up the car.

Escondido Mayor Sam Abed says his city is already beginning to change its impound practices.

“We have been doing this anyways at the checkpoints,” Abed said. “If we get someone without a driver’s license, we don’t impound the car right away, we wait until the end of the checkpoints and if somebody shows up with a driver’s license, then they can get the car.”

But that’s not the experience of Bill Flores, a Latino resident of Escondido.

“The exact opposite is the case," Flores said. “Even when there is a licensed driver in the car being driven by an unlicensed driver, Escondido police will impound the vehicle anyway, which would cost the owner of the car up to $2,000 to get the car out, because it would be a 30 day impound."

The new law will only allow police to impound a car for a short time when the driver has no license, resulting in recovery fees of hundreds rather than thousands of dollars.

Los Angeles has already officially changed its policies to reflect the new law, but the change doesn’t officially kick in statewide till January 1. Police can still legally impound cars of unlicensed drivers for 30 days during the holiday checkpoints in December.

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Avatar for user 'commonman'

commonman | December 19, 2011 at 9:15 a.m. ― 5 years, 3 months ago

Shoddy reporting. Bill Flores is not just "a Latino resident of Escondido". He is spokesperson for El Grupo, an illegal alien support group. Any action taken by Escondido to improve safety, crack down on drunken drivers, drivers with no insurance or license or registration is attacked by Flores as racist.Flores has never let the truth get in his way. Google him and read his ridiculous quotes. The majority of vehicles impounded in Escondido belong to drivers who are not U.S. citizens, have no license and the drivers are uninsured. Flores thinks its not fair that illegals, only Latino, have to follow the rules the rest of us are required to. Check backgrounds before you publish misleading quotes. I live in Escondido and am insulted you quote him and not other residents.

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Avatar for user 'vsg1'

vsg1 | December 19, 2011 at 12:33 p.m. ― 5 years, 3 months ago

This new law saddens me. I have always been grateful that our checkpoints here keep our roads safer by removing the drunks, the unlicensed and uninsured.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | December 20, 2011 at 9:30 a.m. ― 5 years, 3 months ago

I am so sick of reading how we change laws to make it possible for people who break them to get a free pass. I understand a person may forget their wallet or purse at home once in a blue moon. Really, who hasn't experienced that? And I think to change the law so that a person with a license can pick up the vehicle at end of day is in all of our best interests (I've never liked how the city comes up with ways to generate revenue at our cost). What does not sit well with me is the way the law is considered difficult for illegal immigrants.

Doesn't illegal mean 'against the law?' We've been peacefully co-existing with illegal immigration one decade after the next and it only gets worse. Neighborhoods and homes get overcrowded with vehicles and people, businesses and homes get vandalized, people attacked. No, this is not a generalization. This actually happens.

If the police pull over an illegal immigrant driving without a license firstly that person should be arrested and returned to their native country. Secondly, that car should be picked up by the registered owner and fined a reasonable amount of money (I don't think thousands is reasonable). If people don't like it, take your argument to President Calderon and the people of Mexico and ask them what they're going to do to improve their nation so that people don't feel the need to leave illegally in search of a better life because the Mexican way of life doesn't measure up to their expectations.

I'm not racist. I'm an American. I also have Mexican ancestry too. This is not about race. It's about following the law.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | December 20, 2011 at 12:08 p.m. ― 5 years, 3 months ago


Mexicans don't leave Mexico illegally. Another sub-par comment among many that you've made about Mexico. The lower rungs of the Mexican and American job markets are interconnected. What you're "observing" (knee-jerk reflexive dissociative commentary is another way of putting it) is an economic phenomenon, not whatever you think it is. Too bad you don't have French "ancestry" in you. If you did, you would leave Mexicans out of your identity psychoses.

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Avatar for user 'lawbitter'

lawbitter | December 20, 2011 at 1:12 p.m. ― 5 years, 3 months ago

There is a defined law between unlicensed drivers and suspended/revoked. If you have never had a license, ever, you would be considered 12500 unlicensed driver. If you have had a license before and it was either suspended or revoked for some reason, then you would be 14601.1 which will give you a 30 day hold even after the new year. That is allowable by law throughout the state of California. Also, technically when police officers let a 12500 go without a ticket or impoundment, they are breaking state law.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | December 20, 2011 at 3:10 p.m. ― 5 years, 3 months ago

DeLaRick, how do you propose we solve the illegal immigration problem? Please enlighten us.

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Avatar for user 'Satariel'

Satariel | December 20, 2011 at 3:32 p.m. ― 5 years, 3 months ago

David, DeLaRick probably does not think illegal immigration is a problem. His solution: Open the border, grant amnesty to all!

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | December 21, 2011 at 12:25 p.m. ― 5 years, 3 months ago

Illegal immigration is definitely a problem. The borders and points-of-entry should be enforced with highly-trained and skilled people. Those found to be breaking the law should be repatriated back to their countries of origin. Employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens should be fined and/or imprisoned.

The stepped-up enforcement of the borders and unprecedented number of repatriations performed by the Obama administration have slowed the problem of recent illegal immigration (emphasis on "recent"). The bigger problem is what to do with the circumstances created by "older" illegal immigration. How do we square our country's Christian principles with current enforcement proposals? (Are we really going to shatter families by repatriating some family members regardless of their good standing in the community?) How do we enforce current repatriation proposals? (The ensuing frenzy of arrests and accusations would make the Salem Witch Trials look like exercises in civility.)

Those are just two questions of many which have to be answered rationally and humanely. Clear-thinking is required for the debate. Blaming Mexico and believing that Mexicans can flip a magic switch and instantly become our economic equal indicates a poor understanding of our shared labor market and history. That belief is as absurd as Mexico blaming the US entirely for current narco-violence just because we're the biggest market for dope. Blending the concept of correlation with causation is important here. The issue is not as simple as "cause and effect."

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Avatar for user 'HemITupUSgov'

HemITupUSgov | December 21, 2011 at 9:40 p.m. ― 5 years, 3 months ago

I do not see Mexico changing any of their laws in regards to our college students being beaten, raped , and even killed. And here our 'illegal immigrants' from Mexico are prioritizing their vehicles here driven illegally above the lives of our children....this is ludacris!

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | December 22, 2011 at 11:19 a.m. ― 5 years, 3 months ago

1) Reaptriation only breaks up families that choose not to be repatriated with the offender. If family is as important as many claim it is, there is nothing keeping the realtives from residing in the illegal immigrant's country of origin.

2) One enforces immigration laws in the same way that other laws are enforced. When suspicion of an infraction occurs it is investigated. There may be a long backlog of reports that take time to process, and if the government wants to prioritize enforcement of those laws over other (presumably less urgent needs) then we will need to fund it to that level of capability.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | December 22, 2011 at 3:05 p.m. ― 5 years, 3 months ago

...Let's not forget the responsibility of the people in Latin American Governments who sit on their hands and do nothing to improve how they govern.

People are quick to criticize how illegal immigrants are treated in America, yet those same people are silent in how Latin Americans are treated in their native countries.

Until we put the pressure back on Latin Government leaders nothing will change. I was disappointed in seeing Mexican President Calderon stand before the U.S. Congress decrying the Arizona law as 'wrong.' If this man is so sure of himself why doesn't he improve Mexico so people aren't compelled to leave in search of a better life?

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Avatar for user 'migsmiles'

migsmiles | November 1, 2013 at 12:05 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

How and when did all of you make this about illegal immigration?!?!? This is our problem people! We do not stand up for what this county is about FREEDOM! The constitution says nothing about illegal immigrants having no rights! If you come here then you are an American like everyone else here! We can all thank Corporate America for what illegal immigration has become! It amaizing how some people think check points are ridding our streets of drunk drivers, come on! Open your eyes there are drunk drivers out there now and 98% of them were born in the U.S. And get over it Mexico will never change because the U.S.A. does not want it to change. If Mexico makes progress the U.S.A. goes down!

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