AB 1389 Sobriety Checkpoints (driving while undocumented or poor)

Posted on May 28, 2011


A sobriety checkpoint set up at 8AM outside a home depot in Pomona, California. A sobriety checkpoint set up at noon outside a home depot in Napa, California. A sobriety checkpoint set up at 10AM outside a parole/probation office in Santa Ana California.This sobriety checkpoint set up in Fontana.

They all have one thing in common. None of them is looking for drunk drivers. All of them impounded a tow yard full of cars belonging to unlicensed, mostly immigrant drivers before the checkpoints were torn down mid-afternoon. This was one of the primary methods the city of Bell was known to conduct to finance their operations.

Little noticed on Friday was Assembly Bill 1389 that is designed to clarify that the purpose of sobriety checkpoints is to look for intoxicated drivers, not to impound the cars of undocumented drivers whose primary offense is typically driving while poor or being an immigrant.

While the law and order people are outraged, they’re missing that the drivers can still be cited. They just can no longer have the means to their livlihood taken away from them without due process. They will be given an opportunity to have a licensed driver come retrieve the vehicle as opposed to an automatic 30 day impound where the money collected by the tow company is shared with the local municipality.

We look at it as justice being more aligned to the offense. It’s just another step towards reducing the influence of privatization of minor infractions into a cottage industry serving special interests and local municipalities.