Impounding for Driving Without a License

I’m a bit uncertain about this one.

Driving without a valid license could result in a vehicle being impounded under a Republican proposal aimed at reducing drunken driving, but which critics say will disproportionately harm poor people.

Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-West Allis, circulated a bill Tuesday that would require a police officer making an arrest or issuing a citation for driving without a license or with a revoked or suspended license, to immediately impound the vehicle. The bill includes an exception for motorists whose licenses expired within the previous six months and haven’t previously been cited for driving without a license.

Under the bill, a court could extend the length of time a vehicle is impounded after which the driver would have to pay any fines and impoundment fees. If the vehicle isn’t claimed within 30 days of the release date, it could be disposed of or sold. The vehicle would be released immediately to its owner if the driver didn’t own the vehicle, or if the driver is found not guilty of the offense.

The police already impound too much private property for questionable reasons. It puts the burden of proof on the accused to get their property back before a conviction. Everyone is still entitled to their day in court.

Also, in this case, it leaves open the potential for innocent people to have their cars impounded if they let someone without a license drive their car. Granted, people shouldn’t do that, but would you check your friend’s license before loaning them a car?

I would rather leave the punishment for after conviction. Perhaps confiscate a person’s car if that person is cited multiple times for driving without a license. If they don’t have a car, then jail them (or both)