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San Jose Police Look For Alternatives To Vehicle Impounds

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SAN JOSE (CBS/AP) — The San Jose Police Department is expected to stop 30-day impounding of vehicles when an unlicensed driver is stopped for a minor traffic violation.

Officers will instead look for alternatives to towing, such as allowing someone else to take the vehicle, when the stops don’t involve drunken driving or other dangerous driving allegations.

The new policy, which could begin as early as next week, gives officers the option of allowing the driver to park the vehicle and have a licensed driver pick it up for them. If the car is towed, a licensed driver can pick it up immediately by paying fees and fines rather than wait 30 days.

City Councilman Sam Liccardo had asked the police department to give drivers the option of pick-up instead of lock-up.Some object to the policy change. Councilman Pete Constant, a former cop, said the 30-day impound is a useful tool to keep unlicensed drivers off the road. Having them on the roads make city streets less safe, Constant said Thursday.

“I believe that we’ll see an increase in serious accidents in San Jose as a result of this,” Constant said.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

Immigrants rights advocates have been pressuring the police department to change a policy they say largely nets undocumented workers and does little to keep unlicensed drivers off the street since it’s often cheaper to buy another old car than to shell out $1,500 or more in storage.

Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco and several other Bay Area cities have enacted similar policies. San Jose’s acting police chief, Chris Moore, told the San Jose Mercury News he decided on the switch because he wants the time officers devoted to impounds spent elsewhere.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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