Police in California will soon stop towing cars from unlicensed drivers at sobriety checkpoints.
A state law that takes effect Jan. 1 is a major victory for advocates who say the vehicle impounds enrich cities and towing companies at the expense of illegal immigrants.
Like most states, California denies driver licenses to illegal immigrants. Under the new law, they will get to keep their cars if stopped at the checkpoints as long as they are sober and can find a licensed driver.
Former U.S. Attorney Peter Nunez said the state law is a generally bad public policy.
"The police should be helping, not obstructing the operation of federal law," he said.
Pedro Rios from the American Friends Service Committee is glad the towing will stop. He said It was just a way to stop and deport illegals to make money for city governments and towing companies.
"Essentially they would take away the family vehicle," Rios said. "It would prevent moms and dads from taking their kids to school, from going to the clinic or hospital."
The tows have been controversial in California, which allows police to impound vehicles for up to 30 days. That can easily rack up fees topping $1,000. Many unlicensed drivers surrender their vehicles to towing companies, who auction them off.