Section 14602.6(a) CVC gives Peace Officers the authority to impound a vehicle for 30-Days when the driver has a suspended license privledge or, has never been issued a license.
California law and the policy of the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety mandate Officers to impound any vehicle that is driven by a person who does not have a valid driver's license. The officer is not allowed to let the driver park the vehicle or have an occupant with a valid driver's license operate the motor vehicle.
An unlicensed driver or a driver with a suspended or revoked license is a threat to public safety. In an effort to reduce the number of drivers without licenses or drivers operating vehicles with suspended or revoked licenses, Peace Officers have been given citation authorities that are supplemented by impound authorities, including the 30-Day hold. These tools have helped decrease the number of unsafe drivers on public roads.
No License, No Car - - No Exceptions
In California, driving is a privilege, not a right. You must have a valid license to drive. A valid license is one that is not suspended, revoked, expired, and. is issued to you. A license that has been issued by any U.S. State or another country, becomes invalid 10 days after arrival unless you are visiting California. If you have a foreign license, it may be critical to provide proof that you are visiting, otherwise you may be treated as an unlicensed driver.
Your license may be suspended or revoked if:
If you have a valid license in your home state, however your California license status is suspended or revoked, you may not drive in California. The California license status invalidates any other license you possess and, you are subject to arrest if found driving.
Even if you have a valid California Drivers license in your possession, that does not always mean the privilege to operate a vehicle is valid. If the Department of Motor Vehicles takes any action concerning your license, they will mail the notice to the last residence address you provided. Vehicle Code Section 14600(a) requires that you notify the DMV within ten (10) days any time you move. It is a legal presumption you adhere to the law and, if a notice was mailed, you have knowledge of the action.
There is no excuse for failing to change your address. The change is FREE and, you will find the instructions online right now by clicking: CHANGE OF ADDRESS. You can open, complete the online form for address change and submit the form to the DMV by clicking: CHANGE OF ADDRESS FORM.
No matter how an Officer discovers the fact, if you are caught driving without a valid driving privilege... YOU CAN BE ARRESTED!
This is a misdemeanor crime and, it is the Officer who has the option to book you into the Sonoma County jail. If you are booked at jail and this is the sole charge, the bail amount will be $1000.00. Under certain circumstances, the Officer might release you on a signed promise to appear (ticket). Should you fail to appear at the agreed date, the court will issue a warrant for your arrest.
Depending on your previous record, fines for driving while your license is suspended can range as high as $2,700.00. This is just the criminal fine for the unlicensed violation, if you were uninsured and also committed a moving violation the fine will increase $500.00 or more. Besides a fine, the Judge may impose a sentence of up to 365 days in the County Jail. If a vehicle has been held at the tow yard for 30-days, the vehicle may be worth less than the bill. If you do not pay the tow bill, the vehicle will be sild at a lien sale. If the sale price does not cover the tow bill, you are still held responsible for the debt. These debts are often turned over to a collection company and will appear on a credit report.
Since a large majority of unlicensed drivers are also uninsured, please take note: If you do not have insurance, the fine for the first offense is $290. The courts can also order your vehicle impounded.
Did you know...
Public awareness is very important in this matter:
Before you loan your car to a friend,
Alternative Transportation Options
If you need transportation to get to work, school, a doctor's appointment, or a job interview, we suggest:
30 DAY VEHICLE IMPOUND - "The Safe Streets Act"
Driving a motor vehicle on public highways in the State of California is a privilege and not a right. This privilege can be revoked, suspended or denied. Driving and licensing rules which may apply in other states or countries do not apply in California.
Section 14602.6 of the California Vehicle Code states that if any suspended or unlicensed driver is stopped for any violation, or involved in an accident, the vehicle they are driving will be seized, removed and impounded for a minimum of 30 calendar days.
The 30 day impound begins on the calendar day the car is towed and will be released at the conclusion of the 30th day during normal business hours.
The vehicle will be towed, regardless of who owns it, if driven by a suspended or unlicensed driver. The driver does not need to be the vehicle owner. If anyone is driving with a suspended drivers license for any of several reasons, or if the driver never had a driver's license the vehicle will be impounded and stored for 30 days.
Read the CHP Information pamphlet -- "Why was my car Impounded?" - Click Here
Police officers use current DMV license records to determine a driver's license status. The DMV record must show the driver license is valid when contacted by officers.
Even if you have a valid driver license issued to you by another state, licensing agency or foreign government, if your privilege to drive is suspended according to California DMV, you cannot drive in California. Example: You previously had a California driver license that was suspended and you left and returned to California.
If your license was suspended recently, or you received a letter warning your license may soon be suspended, do not rely on court or other information that your driving privilege has been restored. You must clear your license status with DMV and have a current license BEFORE you start to drive.
Owners of vehicles impounded by the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety for 30 days may request a storage hearing at RPDPS with the Records Supervisor to determine the validity or length of their vehicle impound. The hearing can be in-person at RPDPS, or by telephone. The storage hearing will be held to determine only two things:
No other circumstances or reasons are considered. If the 30 day storage is found to be in error, the vehicle can be released. If owners do not agree with the decision of the RPDPS storage hearing, they can request information about other civil court hearings and procedures.
Under the law, there is no valid excuse, urgent need or acceptable reason to drive or permit someone else to drive any distance without a valid drivers license. There are very few exceptions to the drivers license requirements. The purpose of the "Safe Streets Act" legislation is to protect responsible and insured drivers and property owners from the impact of accidents and damage cause by unlicensed, suspended and uninsured drivers.
Car owners are responsible to be sure the person who drives their car or truck has a valid driver license.
REASONS WHY CARS ARE TOWED BY POLICE:
Here are some of the most common reasons why vehicles are towed:
THE DRIVER IS UNLICENSED or HAS A SUSPENDED LICENSE: Vehicles cannot be driven by any unlicensed driver or those who commit a license violation. Vehicles can be towed even if the driver is not the vehicle owner or if there is a licensed passenger in the car. The police department and officers cannot assume the risk or liability for allowing unlicensed drivers to drive away once stopped or contacted. Officers will not leave the vehicle where stopped, call the vehicle's owner or wait for a licensed driver to arrive. Vehicles are towed immediately, per 22651 (p) CVC or if suspended or never issued a drivers license, impounded for 30 days per 14602.6 CVC.
DRIVER or OCCUPANT ARRESTED: Vehicles cannot be left on roadways following an arrest of the driver or person in control of the vehicle. Â The police department or officers cannot assume the risk or liability for leaving a vehicle parked on the roadway or private property following the driver or occupant's arrest for any alleged crime. Â Vehicles can be towed immediately, per 22651 (h)(1) CVC or if driving under the influence under 21, per 22651 (h)(2) CVC.
REGISTRATION EXPIRED OVER 6 (SIX) MONTHS: Any vehicle, registered in any state, may be towed if found or operated on any roadway, public lands, or parking lot with registration expired in excess of six months. Â The vehicle can be released to the owner only after the owner brings proof of current registration, per 22651 (o) CVC.
EVIDENCE OR USED IN A CRIME: Officers will impound and immediately tow and store any vehicle used in, or containing evidence of a crime under several sections of the vehicle code, including section 22655.5 CVC.
California Vehicle Code (CVC) Sections 14602.6 and 14607.6
On January 1, 1995, new laws were enacted relating to unlicensed drivers. These laws, California Vehicle Code (CVC) Sections 14602.6 and 14607.6 authorize tow enforcement agencies to tow and impound vehicles for 30 days when driven by unlicensed, suspended, or revoked drivers. There is a possibility that the vehicle could be forfeited (taken from you by the state) if you have a prior conviction for driving while unlicensed, or with a suspended or revoked license.
"Remember, if you are unlicensed or driving with a suspended or revoked license, the vehicle you are driving may be impounded for 30 days and possibly forfeited.Â Also, if you let someone else drive your vehicle and they are unlicensed, or driving with a suspended or revoked license, your vehicle may be impounded and possibly forfeited."
The following excuses WILL not HELP YOU when your vehicle is being driven by an unlicensed driver and is stopped by law enforcement officers for any reason.
"It was a minor infraction. Why was my car impounded?"
Both 14602.6 and 14607.6 of the CVC give law enforcement officers the authority to impound your vehicle when it is being operated by an "unlicensed driver" (license not issued, suspended or revoked).
Your car is being impounded because you have committed a misdemeanor, not an infraction. By operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver's license you have committed a serious offense. In addition to the citation, the vehicle you are operating will be impounded and held for 30 days, or possibly forfeited.
"I don't understand. Why 30 days? I absolutely need my car!"
The Legislature intended to provide safer roads for California's motoring public by removing the vehicles driven by unlicensed, suspended, or revoked drivers for 30 days. A serious violation of the law calls for a serious response. The 30-day impound begins on the calendar day the car is towed and will be released at the conclusion of the 30th day during normal business hours.
"My brother borrowed the car"
. . . or . . .
"I did not know his license was suspended". . . or . . .
Under Section 14604 CVC, the owner has a duty to assure the person driving their vehicle possesses a valid license; however, if you allow or permit anyone, including: your wife, son, daughter, or friend or relative, to drive your vehicle and that person does not have a valid driver's license, you will be responsible for towing and storage fees.Â You will not have access to the vehicle for 30 days.
"She took the car without my permission"
. . . and . . .
"I am the owner of the car and I have a valid license."
To say someone has taken your car without your permission is not a valid excuse. Ask yourself: How did this happen? Have you allowed him / her to use your car before? Did you ask to see his / her license? Any vehicle impounded will be released to the registered owner after the 30 days.
Note: If, in fact, it is determined that your car was taken by an unlicensed driver without your knowledge or permission, a stolen vehicle report must be filed. The person charged with this crime will be arrested.
"What happens to my car? Who impounds the car? What if I don't agree with the officer?"
Your car will be stored at a tow yard.Â The tow company assignment is on a fixed rotational basis and you have no input regarding what company tows the vehicle. Â If you disagree with the officer, you may request an informal hearing with the Department of Public Safety Records Division Supervisor (707) 584-2600 and explain why an improperly licensed person was driving your vehicle.Â Generally, only if your car was stolen, hence you were unable to determine if the driver was properly licensed, will be a legitimate excuse to get your car out of impound prior to the 30 days.Â This is a matter of law and the police department does not have discretion in this area.Â Impounded Vehicle hearings are only conducted on Tuesday afternoons starting at 2:00 p.m. to determine whether the officer had reasonable cause to impound the vehicle.
"What happens if my car is stored a second time for being driven by an unlicensed, suspended, or revoked driver?"
Your car may be forfeited. This law can be enforced at any time. Driving a motor vehicle on public highways in the State of California is a privilege and not a right. This privilege can be revoked, suspended or denied. A valid California driver's license designates and identifies the bearer as competent to operate a motor vehicle according to state regulations.
"Why is driving without a valid driver's license so serious?"
An unlicensed driver is a potential danger to all other motorists on the highway. He / she may not know the rules of the road or practice safe driving techniques. A driver who is unlicensed, or has a suspended or revoked driver's license has been ordered not to drive because of previous driving violations. Continuing to drive shows a flagrant disregard for the safety of other motorists.
City Hall: 130 Avram Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA 94928, (707) 588-2226 | Hours: M-F 8 am - 5 pm | Contact Us