California

California law enforcement can no longer keep your vehicle without good reason

Officers check drivers at a sobriety checkpoint in Escondido in 2011. An appeals court ruled Wednesday that authorities can no longer impound a person’s vehicle for a set period of time without just cause.
Officers check drivers at a sobriety checkpoint in Escondido in 2011. An appeals court ruled Wednesday that authorities can no longer impound a person’s vehicle for a set period of time without just cause. Associated Press file

Have you ever had your car impounded for a month? Unless it’s proven to be necessary, this will no longer be the case in California.

The Associated Press reports that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled that authorities can no longer impound a person’s vehicle for a set period of time without just cause.

The three judges on the panel – Alex Kozinski, M. Margaret McKeown and Paul J. Watford – all ruled in favor of striking down the law.

Kozinski, who wrote the opinion on the Brewster vs. Beck case, says the California law is in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unlawful searches and seizures.

According to the AP report, Lamya Brewster allowed a family member to borrow her vehicle. The relative was stopped by Los Angeles police and the vehicle was impounded upon finding out that the driver’s license was suspended.

While the seizure was justified, the court said, police should have surrendered the vehicle to Brewster when she provided paperwork a few days later to get her car back.

The case was tossed out in a Pasadena court before reaching the appeals panel.

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