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Manteca wont stop impounding cars of drivers without licenses
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Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has called not “impounding” vehicles of unlicensed drivers caught at sobriety checkpoints “the right thing to do” since many of the cars are driven by illegal immigrants.

That is in sharp contrast to Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker who said his officers will continue to have vehicles driven by unlicensed drivers - whether they have suspended licenses or simply are driving without one - towed and stored for a month regardless of whether they are illegal or legal residents.

The Manteca department also routinely alerts immigration authorities when they come across a driver that is unlicensed who is an illegal immigrant. That also runs contrary to what many larger city police departments do.

Immigration advocacy groups say the taking of vehicles is disproportionately targeting undocumented immigrants who are not able to obtain licenses in most states.

An observation of a sobriety checkpoint three years ago by the Bulletin resulted in six unlicensed drivers being pulled over by Manteca Police on the first 35 minutes of which four were illegal immigrants.

All six vehicles were towed and stored. The police treated all drivers the same and did not single out anyone based on ethnicity. If they could not produce a driver’s license they were pulled over and a DMV check ran.

Once a car is towed and stored, the owners typically has to pay upwards of $1,000 or more to the towing company to get the vehicle back. Bricker noted none of the money goes to the city.

Los Angeles will now try to call the registered owner so they can respond to pick up the vehicle in a “reasonable time.”

Bricker disagrees with such a policy as it ties up short-handed law enforcement personnel in tough budget times.

“They (the owner) have a legal obligation to make sure whoever they give their vehicle to use is a licensed driver,” Bricker said.

Manteca Police average about two vehicles a day that are towed or impounded due to drivers being unlicensed, having a suspended license, or driving under the influence.