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Predatory Southern California Checkpoints?


I warned you. Law enforcement official throughout California stepped up efforts to curb end-of-summer drunk driving, particularly with checkpoints. But were they really aimed at catching drunk drivers or was there an ulterior motive behind their efforts? Some are criticizing the checkpoints for unfairly targeting low income immigrants who do not hold drivers licenses.

“It’s not only an issue of fairness, but what we call predatory towing, which really preys on the most vulnerable families in our community,” executive director of, Arturo Carmona told The Malibu Times. is a Latino community advocacy group. He continued, “It’s something that not only makes no sense, but is extremely unfair to working families.”

Maybe not so surprisingly, law enforcement has inconspicuously transitioned into using the prefix “DUI/CDL” as opposed to the traditional “DUI” when describing its checkpoints. And as I’ve mentioned in prior posts, recent checkpoints have seemed to be nabbing well more unlicensed drivers than drunk drivers.   It seems like the pattern is continuing according to The Malibu Times. As of late August, 48 drivers had been arrested for unlicensed driving since May 24th. In the same span of time, only eight drivers had been arrested at checkpoints for driving under the influence.

The Los Angeles Times reported that a ticket for unlicensed driving can reach $600; legal fees to the Los Angeles County Court can reach $1,000. Attorney fees can get as high as $1,000 to $1,500. If unlicensed drivers cannot find someone to pick their car up from the checkpoint location, the car is “stored” at a tow lot costing the owner approximately $35 a day. If the vehicle is not picked up after 30 days, it is auctioned off to pay for the storage fees, which, at $35 per day, amounts to $1,050. The DMV takes the remainder which, I’m sure, is quite a handsome profit in most cases after the car is sold.

Carmona points out that these numbers don’t include wages lost from not being able to drive to work.

“There are some states that have woken up and smelled the coffee and started issuing licenses to undocumented workers,” Mark Kleiman, professor of public policy at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, told The Malibu Times. “Since we don’t actually expect 11 million irregular immigrants to self-deport, we ought to be working to regularize their lives as much as possible.”

About a year ago, I posted that the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center at the University of California, Berkeley found that over 2,500 checkpoints were planned in 2010. For every DUI arrest, there were six vehicles “stored” and, in conjunction with an investigation by California Watch, UC Berkeley found that the majority of those who had vehicles “stored” were unlicensed illegal immigrants.

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