By on March 5, 2010

Police in Washington state will have the power to take any car for at least twelve hours under legislation passed unanimously by the state House earlier this month and considered by a Senate committee yesterday. State Representative Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) introduced what he called “Hailey’s Law” which would make it mandatory for police to grab the vehicle from drivers merely suspected — not convicted — of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).

“When an operator of a vehicle is arrested for a violation of [DUI statutes], the vehicle is subject to summary impoundment and the vehicle must be impounded,” House Bill 2565 states. “The impounded vehicle may not be redeemed within a twelve-hour period following the time the impounded vehicle arrives at the registered tow truck operator’s storage facility as noted in the registered tow truck operator’s master log.”

The punishment of having the car seized is imposed, without possibility of appeal, on the mere accusation of an officer. The car may not be redeemed until twelve-hours after the car arrives at the lot, unless another person happens to be the registered owner of the vehicle. That owner, regardless of whether he was aware of the vehicle’s use, must pay all of the impound and storage fees before recovering his property. The proposed law gives the state immunity from paying any financial damages that an innocent car owner may suffer as a result of his loss of the car.

“Vehicle impoundment provides an appropriate measure of accountability for registered owners who allow impaired operators to drive or control their vehicles, but it also allows the registered owners to redeem their vehicles once impounded,” the bill’s statement of purpose explains. “Any inconvenience on a registered owner is outweighed by the need to protect the public.”

The Towing and Recovery Association of Washington is one of the main lobbying organizations pushing for the adoption of the law. Association members stand to gain substantial revenue from the towing fees.

The bill must pass the full Senate and be signed by the governor to become law. A copy of the legislation is available in a 25k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File House Bill 2565 (Washington State Legislature, 3/2/2010)

[courtesy:thenewspaper.com]

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55 Comments on “Washington: Legislature May Allow Cops To Seize Cars At Will...”


  • avatar
    mtymsi

    That is the original Franswa Bubble tow truck chassis.

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    Things like this simply feed the frenzy on the interweb, by patriotic Americans who say we need to dump the current regime and start over using the Constitution.

    Frankly, I’d have to agree with that assessment after seeing this kind of thing for over 3 decades, and it’s getting worse.

    So, this kind of thing begs the question; whose car is, whose house is it, whose life is it if someone “representing” the “government” can simply walk in and take it away?

    If you scoff at that statement, then I challenge you to not pay your income tax, not pay your property tax on your house and not pay your impound fee if your car is taken and see what happens.

    We’ve become a nation of slaves and we don’t even know who the slave-owner is.

    • 0 avatar
      KingShango

      Mr. Carpenter,

      I think its overblown posts like this that “feed the frenzy” on the web. Go ahead and stop paying taxes then right after that stop driving on public roads and don’t bother calling the fire dept. if your house is on fire. Taxes are a necessary evil, get over it.

      In regards to this article, I have no problem with this at all. Read the article, if the operator is arrested for DUI the car gets towed. The cops just aren’t towing your car on a whim. Presumably if you’re getting arrested you’ve failed a sobriety test and deserve a lot worse than losing your car for 12 hours.

    • 0 avatar
      Rick

      @Shango:

      You’re OK with punishment being metted prior to a guilty plea or a conviction by a jury of your peers? Why do our soldiers even fight for your freedom if you’re that willing to just give it away?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      @Rick

      This isn’t about being found guilty or being punished, it’s about public safety. They are getting potential drunks off the road. The drivers in question may or may not be charged later, but there’s no significant material loss.

      Much is being made of the fact that it’s the owner of the car who is responsible. Well, guess what, you’re the owner of the car and you’re responsible for it. If you loan it to a friend or relative and they drink while driving it, you can deal with getting the money from them as you were the one who was damn fool enough to lend it to them in the first place.

      If it’s stolen and then used by a drunk, well, there’s usually precedent for handling that, too.

      If there’s a flaw, it’s that the owners of the car who are justifiably innocent do have to pay. One, these probably aren’t going to be the majority of cases (there aren’t many ways you can fail a breathalyzer and then not be drunk) and two, there are courts for this kind of thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Rick

      What’s the point, though, of impounding the car? If people get arrested for drunk driving, it’s my understand that they go to jail until they sober up. Why write some random law that does nothing except pad the pockets of tow companies and impound lots? If the car owner did nothing wrong, then there’s no reason to punish them.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      psharjinian: This isn’t about being found guilty or being punished, it’s about public safety.

      The standard response to cover for a weak rationale or an overly harsh law.

      psharjinian: The drivers in question may or may not be charged later, but there’s no significant material loss.

      Do you know how much impound fees and towing fees can cost? Do you know what a hardship it is for people to be without a car for even one day, especially in rural areas? Do you realize that many people would have to take at least one day off work to get the car back, and this represents a significant hardship to them, especially lower income people?

      Sorry, but you and I have a very different version of “no significant material loss.” I also don’t believe that you are too familar with how much tow truck operators and impound yard owners charge these days.

    • 0 avatar
      rc3

      @psarhjinian
      “This isn’t about being found guilty or being punished, it’s about public safety.”

      The driver is off the road if he is arrested. Automatically impounding the vehicle without a conviction is unnecessary. Rick is right, you are wrong.

      “Wait for it, because I don’t say it often: ‘Exercise some personal responsibility’”

      I’m a huge fan of personal responsibility. Part of personal responsibility in a democracy is opposing slippery totalitarian laws like this one. Own it.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      City of Indianapolis has a nice little parking scam going … we were in town on business, went to St. Elmo’s for dinner and spent a bundle … the 10 of us came back out and found that the parking zone we had parked in and paid had turned into a deliberately poorly marked no-parking tow away zone … cost us several hundred bucks and many blocks walk in the cold and then it began to rain … What a bunch of yahoos. (If you want the longer version, it is somewhere here on ttac if you use, and can get the ttac google to give a useful response.)

  • avatar

    We already have something like this in Ontario, but it’s even worse – 7 days for something called ‘stunt driving’, which is defined as:

    1. Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to lift some or all of its tires from the surface of the highway, including driving a motorcycle with only one wheel in contact with the ground, but not including the use of lift axles on commercial motor vehicles.

    2. Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to cause some or all of its tires to lose traction with the surface of the highway while turning.

    3. Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to spin it or cause it to circle, without maintaining control over it.

    4. Driving two or more motor vehicles side by side or in proximity to each other, where one of the motor vehicles occupies a lane of traffic or other portion of the highway intended for use by oncoming traffic for a period of time that is longer than is reasonably required to pass another motor vehicle.

    5. Driving a motor vehicle with a person in the trunk of the motor vehicle.

    6. Driving a motor vehicle while the driver is not sitting in the driver’s seat.

    7. Driving a motor vehicle at a rate of speed that is 50 kilometres per hour or more over the speed limit.

    8. Driving a motor vehicle without due care and attention, without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway or in a manner that may endanger any person by,

    i. driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to prevent another vehicle from passing,

    ii. stopping or slowing down a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates the driver’s sole intention in stopping or slowing down is to interfere with the movement of another vehicle by cutting off its passage on the highway or to cause another vehicle to stop or slow down in circumstances where the other vehicle would not ordinarily do so,

    iii. driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to drive, without justification, as close as possible to another vehicle, pedestrian or fixed object on or near the highway, or

    iv. making a left turn where,

    (A) the driver is stopped at an intersection controlled by a traffic control signal system in response to a circular red indication;

    (B) at least one vehicle facing the opposite direction is similarly stopped in response to a circular red indication; and

    (C) the driver executes the left turn immediately before or after the system shows only a circular green indication in both directions and in a manner that indicates an intention to complete or attempt to complete the left turn before the vehicle facing the opposite direction is able to proceed straight through the intersection in response to the circular green indication facing that vehicle. O. Reg. 455/07, s. 3.

    http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/about/bill203.shtml
    http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90h08_e.htm#BK245
    http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/regs/english/elaws_regs_070455_e.htm

  • avatar
    Brian P

    Washington residents would do well to do everything they possibly can to stop something like this.

    The mandatory vehicle seizure, and the lack of reimbursement of costs if the courts later dismiss the charges, are eerily familiar of Ontario’s “stunt driving” law, except that in our case, the vehicle is seized for a week, and it’s for far more conditions than suspected impaired driving.

    The best way to stop something sliding down a slippery slope, is to prevent it from starting in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Except that, in Ontario’s case, the seizure rules are pretty plain: if you’re going fifty over the limit, you lose your car on the spot. In my opinion, if you’re going fifty over you’re a danger to motorists around you**, especially on city streets. It’s pretty clear and indisputable: the officer has a recording and very often a radar reading.

      This is similar. The idea is to get people who are a danger off the road. Sometimes it’s not possible to do a full BAC test on someone, but if they’re a danger to themselves it’s important to arrange things so that they’re not. If they weren’t drunk and can prove it, they can fight it in court.

      This is not significantly different from how rowdy drunks and the mentally unstable are handled now. They’re taken to jail and held until they’re no harm to anyone else. They may not be even be convicted.

      It’s very different from, say, being hauled off to a Gitmo-esque Gulag or Pinochet’ed for an extended period. Detaining someone (or taking their car) until they’ve slept it off it a world’s worth of difference from taking their car permanently, or worse.

      It’s a necessary evil: people who are potentially drunk need to be off the roads, just as someone who’s acting demonstrably disturbed needs to be secured to prevent him/her being a danger to self and others. There’s a balance necessary for a functional, safe and a free society, and it’s important to maintain the balance, not argue for absolutes either way (eg, Live Free or Die vs. Lock’em Up and Throw Away the Key)

      ** you could make the case that, say, the 401 needs it’s limit raised to 120, but the kind of people who go 150 and weave in and out are the kind of people who would go 170 if they had the chance.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s very different from, say, being hauled off to a Gitmo-esque Gulag or Pinochet’ed for an extended period. Detaining someone (or taking their car) until they’ve slept it off it a world’s worth of difference from taking their car permanently, or worse.

      Typical that a lefty like you would associate the word “gulag”, a product of socialism and communism, with Pinochet, a right wing militarist, and even worse, Gitmo, an American facility. Prisoners at our Gitmo facility have legal representation, their names are known, they have regular visits from the Red Cross / Red Crescent, not to mention US Congressional oversight. In the Soviet gulags, and in the Chinese lagoi, people simply disappeared.

      You know, the internet has Godwin’s Law. It should have a similar law about people who attempt to tar political conservatives or America with the stain of some of the left’s most heinous crimes, but then, the “big lie” was a product of the left, wasn’t it? There also oughta be another law about people who use buzzwords like Gitmo instead of actual thought.

      Since you’re concerned about Gitmo, which is, after all, on the island of Cuba, what about the more than 220 political prisoners that are being held by the Cuban government, according to Amnesty International, the Cuban Committee for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and Reporters Without Borders? You’re upset about Gitmo, what about the Combinado del Este Prison in Havana, where Dr. Oscar Biscet is serving a 25-year sentence for “disorderly conduct” and “counter-revolutionary activities”? The prisoners at Gitmo identify as jihadis, warriors for Islam. What has Dr. Biscet done?

      In Gitmo the jihadi prisoners are provided with medical care and enough food that they are getting fat. They are allowed to keep their Qurans, provided halal food, and told the direction of Mecca. In the Combinado del Este Prison in Havana, Dr. Biscet is denied medical care or visits by clergy.

      http://www.peticioncuba.org/
      http://www.myspace.com/biscet

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I thought by throwing “Gulag” in there I might have managed to head you off at the bend.

      Guess not.

  • avatar
    criminalenterprise

    When that abomination called PATRIOT Act passed, it was only going to be used against guilty terrorists and anyone who objected was un-American.

    Vehicle forfeiture drug laws have allowed local law enforcement agencies to steal from perfectly innocent Americans as well as the marginally guilty for decades now. In Minnesota they can confiscate and sell off your car for DUI related offenses, even ones where no DUI has occured.

    I guess now that there’s a Democrat in the White House, the “libertarian” and rightist blogosphere turn frothy, incensing the McVeigh and Stack types whenever this kind of stuff comes up.

    Me, I’ve been a member of the ACLU for years, and I’ll never forget how few complained as the Constitution was shredded after 9/11, and how many used the flag of patriotism to shame those who spoke out.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr Carpenter

      Right is right and wrong is wrong and I think if you fairly look at what a LOT of people are saying (and who are made out to be enemies of the state because of it) you’d find that a LOT of people are no more impressed with the prior administration than they are with the current one.

      It’s not even “left” and “right” wing any more – it’s “Constitution” vs “fascism” (fascism being defined by Mussolini as the merger of government and corporate interests – with the unspoken but true completion of that thought being “at the expense of the average people”). Mussolini might have known a little something about fascism, don’t you agree?

      The Patriot act was an abomination, as is much of what the previous and current administrations have done and are doing.

      But of course the same corporate-government controlled mass media which is trying to make a shark-frenzy over Toyota is also trying to make patriotic Americans look like “terrorists” because they aren’t swallowing the “official” line, including hook and sinker, any more. And comparing us to real terrorists.

      I’ll put it plainly. The current powers that be would not have stood next to our Founding Fathers, they would have been on the side of the King in England. That plain enough for you?

      As for taxation, which someone else brought up, yep. It’s a necessary evil. But it should be done legally, and should be kept simple. The Founding Fathers had the right idea. Import tariffs and a (small) Federal Excise Tax (i.e. a tax on purchased goods).

      Our fathers and mothers paid F.E.T. of 10% on new cars until January 1, 1965, and I believe it is still taxed on new tires and a few other things.

      If we get rid of the income and property taxes, and actually have to see every day what goes towards taxes, it would go a long way towards making the public aware of the expenses of government – and would encourage the people to demand expenses be kept to a proper minimum.

      Just think of the benefits of not having to work 6-7-8 months of the year for “uncle sam” before benefiting from the income you generate.

      If God only asked 10% of his people in the Old Testament, any government on earth should be able to use that as a maximum guideline as a taxation guide for income.

      If I own my property outright and don’t pay property taxes, the state seizes what was my property and sells it out from under me, and can have me hauled off what was my property and jailed for trumped up charges. This is what our country has become.

      This kind of thing described in the story is only the sharp end of the wedge – it is we the people who should start standing up for ourselves and demand changes. IMHO.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      criminalenterprise: I guess now that there’s a Democrat in the White House, the “libertarian” and rightist blogosphere turn frothy, incensing the McVeigh and Stack types whenever this kind of stuff comes up.

      Mr. Stack was a Bush hater and railed about insurance companies and the influence of big business on the federal government, so he was hardly a “rightist.”

      And last time I checked, lots of Democrats and liberals who were frothing at the mouth about Bush shredding the Constitution and reincarnating the spirit of Hitler in the land have been curiously silent as the Obama Administration has kept the Patriot Act intact. For that matter, they conveniently ignored when he voted for amendments to it as SENATOR Obama.

      And if you think that libertarians were silent during the Bush Administration, I’d suggest reading some back issues of Reason magazine. They were hardly fans of George W. Bush.

      The difference between liberals and libertarians is that the latter were never naive – or stupid – enough to believe that the current occupant of the White House would radically change Bush’s policies in many key areas.

    • 0 avatar
      criminalenterprise

      Mr Carpenter: I’ll just say this, because I think getting into too many specific details of political economics is a bit much for a car blog:

      The Constitution was written by Madison, who found himself at odds with the more romantic Republicans of the day, but it is the Jeffersonian Republican ideals we think of today when we think of the founders: individualism, independence and the self-made man. It is easy to sympathise with the hot-blooded romantics against the cold, calculated realists.

      Federalist or Republican, they were all ignorant of the industrialized, urban world to come, and their politics were shaped by their peculiar agrarian existence, English common law, and radical French philosophy.

      They developed political science like modern science: observation, experimentation, adaptation. That is why they found success. No dogma is sacred. It is better to look around you than to look back.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    “Any inconvenience on a registered owner is outweighed by the need to protect the public.”

    Doesn’t this thought, with appropriate modifications of text, become the justification for just about anything?

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      It reminded me of “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice”, despite having heard that quote many times over the years, I still can’t decide if it comforts me or unnerves me, but I am leaning toward the latter.

  • avatar
    KingShango

    Rick,

    Don’t be so dramatic! These people aren’t being thrown in prison camps for life. They are losing their vehicle, temporarily, after being arrested for drunk driving. DRUNK DRIVING! Driving is not a right, its a privilege. How often do people randomly get arrested for DUI where you live? How many innocent people get arrested for drunk driving?
    And if someone feels that their civil liberties are being violated they have every right to hire a lawyer and challenge the system. There are plenty of lawyers willing to challenge the government.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynamic88

      Driving is not a privilege, it’s a right.

      The problem starts right there, when people think the govt. gives them the privilege of freedom of movement, the privilege to use the vehicle they bought, the privilege to use the roads they pay for.

      Might as well just say property rights are a privilege and get it over with.

      I don’t care how many times your Driver’s Ed instructor told you driving is a privilege, it’s not. It’s a right. Like all rights, there are attendant responsibilities and limitations. Responsibilities and limitations do not transform a right into a privilege.

  • avatar
    Mark out West

    Get real. This would last about 5 seconds in the first court of appeal.

    Arresting or detaining people on the basis of what they might do is clearly unconstitutional. This is some weenie state legislator trying to drum up personal publicity.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    In no particular order;
    1. Vehicle crimes have been based on the concept of guilty until proved innocent since they began. So what if we just up the ante a bit?
    2. WA is notorious for its’ enthusiastic revenue generation by the HP. Nothing like seeing 18 WSP on the side of the road collecting “tolls” on I5 between Lynnwood and Olympia at…8:30 on a Sunday morning.
    3. One local city/county spent hundreds of man hours to bust an espresso stand because the girls were wearing pasties. Less than 5 miles away is a notorious area of gang banging meth dudes…oh, and an actual prostitute cruise zone.
    4. So, if you are found innocent do you get your money back from the towing/storage? No, no, no…see #1.
    5. Nice to know that our legislators, facing gaping holes in the state budget, still have time to deal with all these other things.

    In other words, passing stuff like this, or working the easy stuff is much more fun for cops and legislators than having to deal with the truly awful stuff. Not that cops don’t, but politicians love to send them on wild goose chases to satisfy some portion of the populace that get their shorts tied in knots about something or another. Or, in this case, a business that would like some more government guaranteed work. As an aside, be careful about the public safety/health argument, almost anything can be justified on those grounds.

  • avatar
    merlynbrit

    NJ already has a law like this. I was stopped for speeding at 3am on a friday night. the officer said he had clocked me for 15 mph over the limit. i had my cruise control set for the speed limit, a fact of which i informed the officer, and i asked the location at which i was clocked. after a pause of about two seconds, i was asked to step out of the vehicle, was told i was under arrest for possible DUI. was informed that the field sobriety test wasn’t needed and his patrol car was not equipped with a mobile breathalyzer. at the police station, i passed the breathalyzer with flying colors, as i had had one beer following work at approx. 11pm. car was still impounded, wife still needed to be woken up to drive with my 5 year old son in tow at 4am. spoke to a lawyer, the cops can do anything under “reasonable suspicion”. oh yeah, i still had to pay the bogus speeding ticket as well. watch big brother guys.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      If you want to have some fun, tape record, or better yet, video or livestream, your interactions with the police. Not only do you get documentation of your side of the interaction, but it puts the problematic officers (most aren’t, but the few that are tend be spectacularly so).

      Technology is a wonderful equalizer in this respect.

      Something that can livestream is your best option as even if your phone is taken you’ve got a record off-site.

      On a related note, it depresses me how uncomfortable many officers are about being recorded.

    • 0 avatar
      trollthattellsthetruth

      Psarhjinian: I must disagree with your statements saying that this law will be for the greater good. I feel that our society, at least from what I have gathered on this message forum, has become very cold toward the individual; we have begun to justify harsh punishments to “prevent the individual from harming the public and themselves.” I feel that this rationale is bull$#it. There are those who argue that the innocent can “go to court” and fight, but it is honestly a waste of time. Passing laws nullifies any power the individual may have and the one with deeper pockets (and thus, most likely to have the better lawyer) will win. Going to court is an inconvenience at best, and, I feel that people shouldn’t have to fight to prove their innocence. These laws are for revenue and control of the public by an elite group of individuals that have people below them that do the dirty work for them. The government is nothing more than a gang, and I know this sounds radical and insane, but that is all that they are. We are slowly losing all of our rights because we have been scared into thinking that laws are necessary to protect us, and to a certain extent they are, but the number of laws passed is becoming excessive.

    • 0 avatar
      trollthattellsthetruth

      I just wanted to add that I do not condone drunk driving, but there are people who have gotten away with worse. The truth is, the people with money are able to afford the cost of breaking these laws. These laws effectively shift more power from the poor to the rich.

    • 0 avatar
      rc3

      @ psarhjinian: Not trying to pick on you with a 2nd response to your comments on this topic, but food for thought:

      Here in Boston police have arrested people for videotaping them. It is a trumped up charge based on the audio capabilities of a camcorder. It is illegal in Mass. to SECRETLY audiotape someone, which the police have conveniently misconstrued as preventing audio-recording them without their CONSENT. The charges are always thrown out, but the victim now has an arrest record and was unfairly detained. It is dangerous to punish on arrest rather than conviction.

      (search on “Police Fight Cellphone Recordings” at Boston Globe if interested).

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    This keeps bad cars off the road but not bad drivers.

    The drivers come from homes averaging over three vehicles per household, so they just go home and get another one. Passing this legislation also allows legislators to collect huge campiagn contributions in exchange for services rendered under the false guise of public safety.

    Ths solution is to hold people who blow bad numbers until they don’t, but how do you get bushels of campaign money for doing that???

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This is going to be one of those exercises where you and I swap sides of the spectrum a little. :)

    psharjinian: This isn’t about being found guilty or being punished, it’s about public safety.

    The standard response to cover for a weak rationale or an overly harsh law.

    Again, it’s a balance issue: there’s a risk to other drivers, and so it’s important to get the car off the road. That’s not a weak rationale at all.

    Do you know how much impound fees and towing fees can cost? Do you know what a hardship it is for people to be without a car for even one day, especially in rural areas? Do you realize that many people would have to take at least one day off work to get the car back, and this represents a significant hardship to them, especially lower income people?

    Do I care since their car was impounded because they were a) drunk and driving or b) lent it to someone who drank and drove? If you don’t want to be caught by this law, it’s very simple: don’t drink and drive, and don’t be so naive as to lend your car to someone who might do so.

    Wait for it, because I don’t say it often: “Exercise some personal responsibility”

    Sorry, but you and I have a very different version of “no significant material loss.” I also don’t believe that you are too familar with how much tow truck operators and impound yard owners charge these days.

    Unfortunately, I am. It cost me quite a bit to liberate my Saab (not a day since I bought it) from a tow yard because I parked on a busy thoroughfare and didn’t move the car before the date. I grumbled, but it was my fault for not getting out the door in time; it’s not like the consequences weren’t clearly spelled out.

    If people aren’t going to exercise responsibility and stop drinking and driving (and we’re down to the chronic abusers these days for whom lighter legislation is not working) then this is the end result.

    • 0 avatar

      You admit you were guilty, so the impoundment was justified. That’s a completely different case.

      In the proposed legislation, people are only accused of criminal acts, not proven guilty. Most traffic tickets in the US are civil infractions, with a lower burden of proof on the prosecution, the preponderance of the evidence – while DWI and a few serious offenses are actual misdemeanors, and all the constitutional protections regarding criminal cases attach, including the demand that guilt be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In both civil and criminal cases, though, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty remains.

      In the US, punishing people before their crime has been adjudicated is not how we do things. Even when people are deprived of their liberty and remanded before and during trial, that is only after substantial vetting occurs, including judicial review at a pretrial hearing. In all but a handful of cases, bail is granted. In the proposed legislation, the owner of the car is immediately zapped with a $100+ towing and impound fee with no judicial review, just the say so of a cop. No matter how you cut it, that’s punishment before guilt is proven.

      You want to live in a nanny state, I don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      This is not about pulling a Judge Dredd and slapping someone with a criminal record on the roadside. There’s no “guilty until proven innocent” in effect; this is, rather, a form of crowd control.

      The idea here is to get someone dangerous off the road, much like you’d have the police take away a paranoid schizophrenic who might be a danger to him/herself and others. Again, it’s not about crime and punishment, it’s about safety. Do you want to wait until after the person has committed a crime and been convicted to take action when it’s reasonably obvious they’re a danger before the act?

      About the only objectionable part of this law is that it doesn’t provide for compensation if the driver is able to beat the rap. Other than that, it’s entirely reasonable.

      I know you find the idea ideologically unpalatable, but the truth is we live in a social collective that requires people to act contrary to the their own selfish natures sometimes. Most people can do this, and they do it most of the time. There are instances of people who cannot, and drunk drivers are solidly in that camp: they’re choosing to act without responsibility or thought, and we—the rest of the social collective—are entitled to design a system to protect ourselves.

      Libertarians, or at least the absolutist ones, need to understand that their ideology is just as flawed as Communism, and for the same reason: people aren’t happy little Randian (or Marxist) ideals that react the way you want them to. Most people are good, some suck spectacularly, and it’s those failures that ideological extremes utterly fail to deal with.

  • avatar
    crash sled

    This is a no brainer. Government shouldn’t just grab private property on a whim. Even worse, today we’ve often got municipalities and agencies profiting themselves directly, through confiscating and selling property.

    http://detnews.com/article/20091112/METRO/911120388/Police-property-seizures-ensnare-even-the-innocent

    Local law enforcement agencies are raising millions of dollars by seizing private property suspected in crimes, but often without charges being filed — and sometimes even when authorities admit no offense was committed.

    “Police departments right now are looking for ways to generate revenue, and forfeiture is a way to offset the costs of doing business,” said Sgt. Dave Schreiner, who runs Canton Township’s forfeiture unit, which raised $343,699 in 2008. “You’ll find that departments are doing more forfeitures than they used to because they’ve got to — they’re running out of money and they’ve got to find it somewhere.”

    When the police become both law enforcement and tax collector, to support their OWN budget… watch out. This dynamic is one you may regret one day.

  • avatar

    Argument about the left and the right are moot. Everyone take a chill pill. This is all for show. How do I know? Twenty five years ago I sold something I shouldn’t have to an undercover police officer. I was told later that my car was going to be seized by the government. It never happened. The reason is that the lien holder (the banks) have rights. Title can’t be transferred to the government unless they are paid.

  • avatar
    bwell

    Isn’t there something called the 4th Amendment that would prevent this sort of thing? I would be interested to hear from someone knowledgeable about Constitutional law on this.

    • 0 avatar
      criminalenterprise

      You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.

    • 0 avatar

      Fourth and Fifth Amendment issues, plus civil matters as well.

      The Fourth protects your property from seizure in criminal proceedings and the Fifth protects your property from being taken by the state without compensation (generally associated with eminent domain issues).

      You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.

      You just might want to engage in some self reflection and see whether or not you indeed have some sympathies with those that hate America. You’ve said plenty critical about Americans, but haven’t said a negative thing at all about terrorists.

  • avatar
    MidLifeCelica

    OK, so before this law took effect, what happened to the car of an arrested impaired driver? Did they just leave it on the side of the road? In the parking lot of the nearest 7-11? Did the cops have to call someone sober to come get the car and wait for them to arrive to take the keys? Lots of wasted time there. Even if I was the drunk in question, I’d probably be happier knowing my car was being taken somewhere behind barbed wire with some angry dogs then left out in the elements to be stripped, stolen, or crashed into by another drunk.

    • 0 avatar
      dkulmacz

      Just what I was thinking. If they don’t tow it, then what?

      I at first thought this article was about seizure of the car, i.e., permanently take it away. But towing it? Sounds like much ado about nothing.

      I hate to be an alarmist, but I think in some places it’s actually “legal” to impound your vehicle if you leave it parked in the wrong place . . .

  • avatar
    George B

    If the goal here is to protect the public, all that really matters is getting the intoxicated driver off the road. Put him in jail if necessary and make the fine big. Might also be a legitimate reason to move a car, but not if the car is already legally parked. The problem here is public safety, government revenue, and towing company revenue have been conflated together in a potentially bad way. The owner of the car should get to choose how the car gets moved and where it gets parked.

  • avatar

    mtymsi
    That’s right they rarely are. They can confiscate the vehicle but they must pay the lien holder. In other word if its not a profitable confiscation they won’t do it. I speak from experience.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do to pay all those civil servants their $60,000 a year pensions when they turn 55.

  • avatar
    SOF in training

    Three things:
    -I don’t see anywhere in this that the State makes any money on it, just the towing companies.

    -A passenger in the car was supposed to drive it home, drank some more instead, crashed and died. If I searched the Seattle Times a bit, I could probably find the incident… it was not pretty.

    -Why not a picture of the Lincoln Towing Toe Truck?

  • avatar
    geeber

    psharjinian: Do I care since their car was impounded because they were a) drunk and driving or b) lent it to someone who drank and drove?

    These people are innocent until proven guilty. And the law allows no recourse for those who have been fasely accused.

    psharjinian: If people aren’t going to exercise responsibility and stop drinking and driving (and we’re down to the chronic abusers these days for whom lighter legislation is not working) then this is the end result.

    Only problem is that we’ve lowered the blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold at which one can be legally declared drunk. You don’t have to be a hardcore alcoholic to blow a .08 BAC.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      No, but you’re functionally impaired at 0.08. Many people, especially smaller people (eg, the young, many women) are impaired at BACs lower than that.

      Sometimes it’s not even the physical impairment that’s the problem but that of judgment and risk assessment, which happens well before 0.08.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    I am unfamiliar with Washington State’s DUI laws. But I’m quite familiar with NY’s degenerate politicos, and the stench is familiar.

    Forget towing and impounding for a paragraph. Regarding the driver with the DUI, Washington’s laws are probably somewhat harsh in theory. In practice, I’m sure their law is full of loopholes, exemptions, and mountains of judicial discretion to keep most career DUI slobs on the road for years after they’ve lost their license.

    Of course, such lax enforcement, once known, begets more and more drunks who simply ignore the law (admittedly, often with the help of sympathetic relatives). But instead of harsher penalties against the drunk driver (or – and here’s the big fix – against those who’ve lost their license because of drinking), Washington’s politicos create a revenue stream.

    Impounding and forfeiture really hurt the innocent at times.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Psar and I live in the same province. We have the toughest DUI and speeding laws in North America. If you get caught 50 KLM over the limit it’s gonna cost you 2 grand to get your car back.

    With insurance and legal fees try about 50 grand for a DUI.

    As a retired guy living on a fixed income,I have a solution.

    I never drive more than 20 over the limit,and anything past 2 beers is a cab ride home.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Just a clarification: I believe it’s actually CA$10,000 (yes, ten grand) and/or the seizure of your vehicle if you’re 50km/h over the limit. This is why I drive 20km/h over, at most, on the major highways.

      We Ontarians, we don’t screw around.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      Just a clarification: I believe it’s actually CA$10,000 (yes, ten grand) and/or the seizure of your vehicle if you’re 50km/h over the limit. This is why I drive 20km/h over, at most, on the major highways.

      I’m certain a conviction is necessary for the car to be kept. And I’m certain (for wealthy Canadians) there are ex-Crown Attorneys who will (for a nice fee) get anyone (and his car) back on the road.

      Just wondering: Will Ontario take a car that’s leased? (And have the leasing company go after the lessee?) Or is seizure only for screwing people with paid off, well maintained, 5 year old vehicles?

      We Ontarians, we don’t screw around.

      OK, Ontario fines are tough (for those who can pay). But Ontario jails drunks at the same pathetic rate as NY State. That’s nothing to be proud of.

  • avatar
    Zammy

    It’s worse than that.

    Once a vehicle is impounded, courts have ruled the police have the right to do an “inventory search” of the vehicle. Anything found during an inventory search can be used as evidence.

    So what this law does is turn a situation where the vehicle owner is able to decline having his vehicle searched into a situation where it is searched without his consent.

    One more right blown away in the wind.


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