Sobriety checkpoints in California are increasingly turning into profitable operations for local police departments. They are far more likely to seize cars from unlicensed motorists than catch drivers under the influence.
According to the Orange County Register, an investigation by the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley with California Watch has found that impounds at checkpoints in 2009 generated an estimated $40 million in towing fees and police fines. This revenue is divided between cities and towing firms. Police officers received about $30 million in overtime pay for DUI crackdowns in 2009.
Law enforcement officials and tow truck operators stated that vehicles are predominantly taken from minorities. Sobriety checkpoints often screen traffic within or near Hispanic neighborhoods. Cities where Hispanics represent a majority of the population are seizing cars at three times the rate of cities with small minority populations.
The seizures defy a 2005 federal appellate court ruling that determined police cannot impound cars solely because the driver is unlicensed. In fact, police across California have impounded more than 24,000 vehicles at checkpoints – the percentage of vehicle seizures has increased 53 percent compared with 2007.
Make sure your rights are accurately and aggressively defended. If your vehicle has been seized, or you are charged with DUI or driving without a license, you should contact the experienced Southern California criminal defense law firm of Wallin & Klarich. Our attorneys have been helping those accused of crimes for more than 30 years. Wallin & Klarich has the legal resources and knowledge to assist you in obtaining a successful outcome. Call Wallin & Klarich today at (877) 466-5245 to find out more about how we can help. We will be there when you call.