Every year, thousands of cars are towed away in California if the driver doesn't carry a valid driver's license. These rules definitely impact illegal immigrants. Now, as of January 1st, authorities at sobriety checkpoints will no longer be able to tow away the cars of drivers, who have no license to drive. NBC4's Ted Chen reports.
Thousands of cars have been towed throughout the years in California if the driver wasn’t carrying a valid driver’s license.
But as of Jan. 1, authorities at sobriety checkpoints will no longer be able to tow the cars of drivers who have no license.
"It's a license to kill," said Don Rosenberg, whose 25-year-old son was killed by an unlicensed driver last year.
Rosenberg said he used to support driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants, but now he's outraged about the new law.
"They've now given unlicensed drivers permission to keep driving and they're going to kill people," added Rosenberg.
The new law prevents police from impounding cars at DUI checkpoints if the drivers' only offense is not having a license.
"We cannot be diverting resources that are supposed to be focused on drunk drivers and use those resources to cherry pick," said Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Lincoln Heights), who authored the legislation.
Cedillo's law applies only to DUI checkpoints. However, Los Angeles may go further next year and stop 30-day impounds on unlicensed drivers for all traffic stops.
Activists argue that at intersections in South and East L.A., illegal immigrants have become easy prey and cash cows for towing companies.
"They know which communities have a higher population of unlicensed drivers," said Ron Gochez with the Southern California Immigration Coalition. "We see it as a money-making scheme off the backs of poor people."
Staunchly opposed to any easing of the impound laws is the L.A. Police Protective League. It points out that 20 percent of fatal car crashes are caused by unlicensed drivers, often resulting in grieving fathers like Don Rosenberg.
"I have a lot of sympathy for people who are willing to risk their lives to come to this country illegally," said Rosenberg. "But you can't do that at the expense of others."