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Judge strikes down LAPD's Special Order 7

Liberal procedures for impounding cars of unlicensed drivers

8/12/2013, 1:05 p.m.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — A judge today struck down the LAPD’s policy liberalizing procedures for impounding cars of unlicensed drivers.

The plaintiff in the Judicial Watch lawsuit was Harold Sturgeon, who brought the action as a taxpayer case. His lawyer, Paul Orfanedes, said after the hearing he was pleased with the ruling. He said Special Order 7 interfered with the uniformity and deterrent effect that the Legislature intended with its enactment of the Vehicle Code provisions at issue.

He denied that the immigrant community is unfairly impacted without the protection of Special Order 7. In his court papers, Orfanedes cited state Vehicle Code records stating that more than 20 percent of drivers involved in fatal accidents were not properly licensed to drive.

Drivers with suspended licenses were four times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident compared to those who are properly licensed, according to Orfanedes’ court papers.

The Washington, D.C.-based Judicial Watch complaint, filed in May 2012, was the third suit filed in as many months challenging the policy. Sturgeon, of Los Angeles, maintained that the department’s impound policy was an unlawful use of taxpayer money specifically “to help unlicensed illegal aliens.”

The other plaintiff in the consolidated complaint, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, is the union representing about 9,900 rank-and-file LAPD officers.

Bill Hetherman | City News Service