A California state senator reasons that since illegal aliens can’t get a driver’s license in his state, they shouldn’t be subject to the its penalties for driving without one – and he’s introduced a bill to exempt them.
Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, a long-time proponent of driver’s licences for illegal aliens, once claimed on a Spanish-language radio station that he and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger were working together to craft a driver’s license bill, despite the fact that the governor had campaigned on a platform of denying the documents to those unlawfully in the U.S. Schwarzenegger vetoed Cedillo’s bill under political pressure, so the senator crafted a measure to circumvent California’s ban.
Under present California law, police have the option of impounding the vehicle of a motorist caught driving without a license. Cedillo’s SB 591 would exempt those whose status as illegal aliens prevent them from having a license.
Serious driving offenses like drunk driving are what police should be concentrating on, Cedillo said, “not towing people’s cars who are taking their citizen kids to school, church or the supermarket. It’s just a bad policy and it doesn’t make sense.”
Mike Spence, president of the California Republican Assembly, a conservative political activist group, decried the bill’s “double standard.”
“If you’re a citizen and you break one law, your car will be impounded for 30 days. If you’re already breaking another law and you break this law, you get away with it free. It’s a ‘Get-your-car-out-of-impound-free card’ for illegal aliens, and it’s wrong,” Spence told the L.A. Daily News.
There’s no reason for illegal aliens to drive without a license, notes Lt. Steven Allen of the LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division. Officers are required to accept valid licenses from other countries, even if the driver is in the U.S. illegally. California’s impounding provision is useful for getting unlicensed driver’s off the street, he adds.
“I probably get more complaints about this very issue from people who are involved in traffic accidents than any other issue,” Allen said. “(They say) here I am in this country legally and I have a driver’s license and I get rear-ended by someone who has no license, who is here illegally and has no insurance. How am I ever going to get money for the damage to my car?”
Allen estimates that his division impounds 80 to 120 vehicles each time it sets up a license checkpoint.
While the federal Real ID Act, presently before Congress, would deny standard licenses to illegal aliens, states would still be able to issue separate documents permitting illegals to drive. SB 591 remains on hold, pending the federal bill’s final outcome, but Cedillo sees it as a backup if California still refuses to extend driving privileges to illegal aliens.