Washington: Legislature May Allow Cops To Seize Cars At Will

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper
washington legislature may allow cops to seize cars at will

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.

House Bill 2565 (Washington State Legislature, 3/2/2010)

[courtesy: thenewspaper.com]

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  • Mikey Mikey on Mar 05, 2010

    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.

    • See 1 previous
    • Ihatetrees Ihatetrees on Mar 05, 2010
      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.
  • Zammy Zammy on Mar 05, 2010

    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.

  • Inside Looking Out "And safety was enhanced generally via new reversing lamps and turn signals fitted as standard equipment."Did not get it, turn signals were optional in 1954?
  • Lorenzo As long as Grenadier is just a name, and it doesn't actually grenade like Chrysler UltraDrive transmissions. Still, how big is the market for grossly overpriced vehicles? A name like INEOS doesn't have the snobbobile cachet yet. The bulk of the auto market is people who need a reliable, economical car to get to work, and they're not going to pay these prices.
  • Lorenzo They may as well put a conventional key ignition in a steel box with a padlock. Anything electronic is more likely to lock out the owner than someone trying to steal the car.
  • Lorenzo Another misleading article. If they're giving away Chargers, people can drive that when they need longer range, and leave the EV for grocery runs and zipping around town. But they're not giving away Chargers, thy're giving away chargers. What a letdown. What good are chargers in California or Nashville when the power goes out?
  • Luke42 I'm only buying EVs from here on out (when I have the option), so whoever backs off on their EV plans loses a shot at my business.