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Riverside County Sheriff's Department reverses impound policy

March 21, 2011 | 10:46 am

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has reversed a decision by local authorities to give unlicensed drivers an opportunity to avoid losing their vehicles at DUI checkpoints.

The department's Indio station, which patrols the city of Coachella and other cities in eastern Riverside County, had agreed in February to give unlicensed drivers at DUI checkpoints 30 minutes to find a legal driver to avoid an impound.

But sheriff's officials said last week that they would not give unlicensed drivers the extra time.

The change followed several months of meetings among city officials, sheriff's officials and representatives from local churches.

Sheriff’s officials said in a statement that any future changes to its vehicle impound policy would be done “equally and uniformly across the motoring public and the communities [the department] serves."

"Vehicle impounds at traffic checkpoints would also be treated exactly the same as lawful impounds resulting from [on-site] violations,” the statement continued.

Capt. Raymond Gregory, who oversaw the changes at the Indio station, referred all calls to Chief Deputy Rod Vigue, who is in charge of East County patrol operations. Vigue was not immediately available for comment.

“It’s a unilateral decision that doesn’t reflect the leaders’ response to the community’s pain on this issue,” said Yvonna Cazares, an organizer with Inland Congregations United for Change, which pushed the changes in the Coachella Valley.

She added that people concerned about the issue were still hoping to meet with the sheriff to discuss the policy change.


LAPD Chief Charlie Beck: Changing controversial rules for impounding cars was 'right thing to do'

-- Paloma Esquivel