Judge Rules Against LAPD's Special Order 7 Impound Policy

The policy was designed to lessen the financial burden on drivers who have their cars impounded for as long as a month

By Toni Guinyard
|  Monday, Aug 12, 2013  |  Updated 3:04 PM PDT
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A judge struck down a controversial LAPD policy on how officers handle impounds involving unlicensed drivers. Special Order 7 was designed to lessen the financial burden on drivers who have their cars impounded for as long as month. Toni Guinyard reports from downtown Los Angeles for the NBC4 News at noon on Monday, Aug. 12, 2013.

A judge struck down a controversial LAPD policy on how officers handle impounds involving unlicensed drivers. Special Order 7 was designed to lessen the financial burden on drivers who have their cars impounded for as long as month. Toni Guinyard reports from downtown Los Angeles for the NBC4 News at noon on Monday, Aug. 12, 2013.

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A judge on Monday struck down a controversial Los Angeles Police Department policy on how officers handle impounds involving unlicensed drivers.

The challenge to Special Order 7 was made by attorneys with Washington D.C. watch dog Judicial Watch and the Los Angeles Police  Protective League, the union that represents LAPD officers.

The courtroom fight had to do with the discretion given to LAPD officers who are faced with the choice of impounding a driver's car during a traffic stop.

Under Special Order 7, unlicensed drivers can reclaim their cars in fewer than the usual 30 days if they have proof of insurance, no prior misdemeanor convictions for driving without a license and a valid identification.

Prior to Special Order 7, there were complaints from community members, specifically low-income residents and undocumented immigrants, who said they were unfairly and disproportionately having their cars impounded.

The policy, which was implemented last year, was designed to lessen the financial burden on drivers  who have their cars impounded for as long as a month.

But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry Green said Special Order 7 did  more than just provide guidelines to officers. Green called the policy "a real game  changer" that conflicted with what the Legislature intended when it enacted  provisions within the state Vehicle Code to reduce accidents caused by people  driving without a valid license.

Green said the city should  take up their arguments in Sacramento rather than in the courts.

The assistant city attorney said he will review the judge's ruling and an appeal is possible.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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