I am sure that Whitney is right that a month-long impounding of their cars is a hardship on working families. It is also a hardship on people who drive with suspended licenses -- as it is meant to be.
Let me add: Why does California spend billions of dollars on public transportation, if we don't think people without drivers' licenses should have to use it? One bill supporter is Pomona Police Chief James Lewis. Earlier this year, his department reduced the length of impoundment time from 30 days to one day. Whitney believes that when Pomona police impound a car for one day instead of one month, they enjoy better relations with the community and improved community policing.
Then again, Pomona apparently doesn't need SB626 to exert local control and issue a reduced penalty.
I asked Whitney if he believed people should drive without a license. He answered no. Should they drive without insurance? He said no, again.
Then what should the punishment be? Whitney did not want to answer, but he finally said, impounding a car for one day.
Great. One day. So the next day, an unlicensed driver can pick up the car and drive without a license or insurance, secure in the knowledge that there is a not much of a penalty for doing so. L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca opposed SB626. Bilowit explained that a one-day impoundment makes breaking the law cheap and easy.
While Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office has no official position on SB626, he did veto a similar bill in 2005, noting that such legislation "would send a message to unlicensed drivers that it is acceptable to break the law." The pro-illegal immigrant lobby likes to complain that the law sends mixed messages to illegal immigrants. Then they push for laws -- like a slap on the wrist for driving without a license -- that muddle the message again. I have to ask: If California lawmakers don't respect the law, why should California voters respect their lawmakers?
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