A judge has ruled that the controversial guidelines Los Angeles Police Department officers must follow when deciding whether to impound vehicles are illegal.
L.A. Superior Court Judge Terry Green said that the LAPD's policy was inconsistent with state law, which allows officers to enforce the 30-day impounds, reports LA Weekly.
According to LA Weekly, in recent years illegal immigrants in Los Angeles faced losing their vehicles for at least 30 days if they were stopped by the LAPD, but under the urging of then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the department last year changed that policy and said you could pretty much keep your car if you had not done anything else wrong.
However, the policy, called Special Order 7, was challenged by the police union and a citizen, and on Monday, the judge ruled against the LAPD.
The decision threw the fate of the department's impound policy into question and dealt a blow to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and members of the city's police commission, which had fought to implement the rules, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Under the terms of Special Order 7, unlicensed drivers who meet several requirements still have their cars impounded but no longer face a 30-day hold on their vehicles with fines that now often exceed $1,200.
Beck and police commission members presented the new rules as the morally correct move in a city with a large population of illegal immigrants who cannot legally obtain licenses and thus were having their cars impounded at disproportionate rates.
The union that represents rank-and-file officers disagreed, saying the new policy violated state law by stripping officers of the discretion over when to apply the 30-day hold. The union, along with Judicial Watch, sued the city, seeking to have the policy tossed out.
Michael Kaufman, an attorney for the Southern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which was part of a coalition defending the impound rules, said the ACLU and other groups in the coalition would appeal Green's decision.