Civil Liberties

Arizona Expands Seizure Laws

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…and reaps the bounty :

Last January, an Arizona law took effect requiring police to seize the vehicles of individuals accused—but not convicted—of certain violations. Already at least two jurisdictions are generating millions in revenue.

The law mandates that police impound a vehicle for 30 days if the police officer suspects its driver had a suspended license or a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or more. Pima County and Tuscon together tow nearly a thousand cars a month, bringing $5 million in fees and fines annually. Under the new law, each violation nets up to $450 in fees and fines divided up between the jurisdictions and towing companies who often are able to keep cars when the fees are inflated beyond the vehicle's value. These fees come on top of fines for the various offenses that can exceed $2000.

Jim Mooney, owner of Frontier Towing, told the Arizona Daily Star that he was purchasing four $85,000 tow trucks to keep up with the increase in seizures.

This is pretty interesting, too:

Tuscon also seizes automobiles from individuals who transport individuals for medical care without first checking their citizenship status.

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  1. Lawyers used to be the bulkwark against this kind of thing. before society decided that it h8ted lawyers and “activist judges.”

    Maybe that ex-Marine with the out of date sticker can help. He led combat soldiers making noble sacrifices in Viet Nam.

  2. Hmmm…next time I’m in an ambulance, picking up a latin-looking sort, I’ll be sure to demand to see his papers. I’d hate to see the bus get impounded.

    Of course, there’s probably an exception for ambulances. After all, the people who operate ambulance services have money, lawyers, and insurance. Better to target citizens who can’t defend themselves.

  3. I continue to find the perverse ways that our government encourages us to become less human through its laws amazing.

    I’m not for illegal immigration, per se, but seriously, the last time to ask a fellow human being about his or her green card is when their bleeding out or dying of infection.

  4. It should also be noted that this is the kind of thing that gets police not to use their discretion to report undocumented workers to immigration authorities.

    Like many law and order types, many police do not like undocumented workers.

    However, if you give the police a way to make a profit from the undocumented worker (see, escondido checkpoint blog entry, Tuscon transport law), then the police can “fight illegal immigration” by impounding cars ($$$ for the dep’t) and nobody has to lose an employee to immigration prison. Happy conservative po po’s, in other words.

    It disgusts me when police departments allow themselves to be manipulated in this way — or at least when they do it quietly.

  5. I can’t wait until Arizona gets rid of due process altogether. Sheriff Joe will have the place whipped into shape in no time once that happens.

  6. Dem illegal wetbacks is deservin’ of everythin’ we can do ’em. Same goes for them lefty, America hatin’ good samaritans.

  7. So, will they start asking for every brown skinned person’s papers? This is Arizona, after all. Hopefully this whole plan will get shitcanned after pissing off a few noisy pochos.

  8. The problem is forfieture law. It doesn’t matter the law, drugs, DUI, prostitution, immigrant smuggling, forfeiture laws are just a way to get around the need to prove guilty. They allow a police department to act as judge and jury over someone and punish them by taking their property and make a huge profit to boot. Unless the property is evidence of a crime for which pictures can’t be substituted, no law enforcement agency should ever be able to cease or impound property absent a conviction.

  9. Sam,

    Cute word substitution using ‘undocumented’ as if illegal immigrants would be legal if it were not for a mixup in paperwork.

  10. The problem is forfieture law. It doesn’t matter the law, drugs, DUI, prostitution, immigrant smuggling, forfeiture laws are just a way to get around the need to prove guilty. They allow a police department to act as judge and jury over someone and punish them by taking their property and make a huge profit to boot. Unless the property is evidence of a crime for which pictures can’t be substituted, no law enforcement agency should ever be able to cease or impound property absent a conviction.

    Well said, John, well said.

  11. Cute word substitution using ‘undocumented’ as if illegal immigrants would be legal if it were not for a mixup in paperwork.

    I usually use “illegal immigrant.” i was only using “undocumented worker” out of sensitivity to the sensibilities here and not wanting to create a collateral issue. I don’t really care what ppl call them.

  12. Ah, then good show Sam Franklin!

  13. I’ll switch to my Yugo the next time I’m in AZ.

  14. I’ll switch to my Yugo the next time I’m in AZ.

    Charlie, the question is would the cops in AZ be dumb enough to seize a Yugo? I suspect that even AZ state toopers aren’t that stupid.

  15. I don’t really care what ppl call them.

    How about “sovereign individuals“?

  16. In retrospect, my only experience with AZ state troopers was getting pulled over for speeding on the interstate. The officer was professional and treated me with respect. Therefore, I apologize to AZ state police for my previous remark.

    I still got a ticket though.

  17. My only experience with AZ state troopers was for alleged speeding on a two lane road. The road went from a winding little broken up road in NM to a gorgeous wide downhill starting right at the border. I was pulled over within a mile.

    Very professional and pleasant. I got a warning.

  18. “In retrospect, my only experience with AZ state troopers was getting pulled over for speeding on the interstate. The officer was professional and treated me with respect. Therefore, I apologize to AZ state police for my previous remark.”

    My experience in living in six different states now is that State Troopers tend to be professional and local cops tend to be petty thugs. For whatever reason, Troopers seem to be a bit higher on the food chain than your local flatfoot.

  19. I propose a constitutional amendment that prohibits the state from profiting from enforcing the law.

  20. It’s “Tucson.”

  21. You would think a country that shrieks endlessly about its Christian righteousness wouldn’t punish people for aiding a sick neighbor. Maybe they need to pull out their Bibles and read about the Good Samaritan. What would Jesus do, indeed.

    John: it’s well-known that State Troopers are a substantial cut above city cops, even if they are working an urban freeway. It may have something to do with being trained to work twenty-mile sectors without backup immediately available. They are taught not to antagonize people, while city cops really just don’t give a damn.

    My experience with sheriff’s deputies has been similar, but that’s mostly been in the Midwest. Sheriff’s elections here are hotly contested instead of simply being a party/patronage foregone conclusion, and the behavior of the sheriff and his deputies is a campaign issue. Here’s a hint: the sheriff himself never gives out tickets, but only warnings, especially if you have an address in the county.

  22. Warren,

    I proposed the same thing on my blog about a year ago. It does seem pretty stupid. Also, seizure laws ignore the letter of the Constitution (“persons, papers and effects . . . without due process of law.”)

  23. There’s a process.

    Asset Seizure Process (TM)

    1) Accuse person of crime.
    2) Seize property of said person in accordance with law.
    3) Charge fee to recover seized property or sell same to third party in accordance with law.
    4) Distribute proceeds to interested parties in accordance with law.
    5) Repeat with same or different person.

    You gotta admit, it’s a process.

  24. A local paper here in AZ ran an incredible story last year about towing companies that are operating what amounts to car theft operations. They tow your car, often without cause (several examples were given of people having their cars towed out of their own parking spaces at apartment complexes because of passes that expired at midnight, literally minutes before the towing), and then refuse to give it back. They’ll make up fines, make up safety issues with your car, etc. The important thing is to keep dragging it out. This will go on until your time to reclaim your car has expired under AZ law, and it now becomes the property of the tower who stole it from you.
    At least one guy in the article openly admitted to doing this. His attitude was “Hey, I gotta make money”. It’s suprising that people haven’t gotten shot over this. Can’t say I’d shed a tear.

    Full disclosure: My car was towed in Tempe, AZ last year by a tower who saw it parked in the lot of an office building without a sticker.
    At 11 PM. On a Sunday.

  25. Its spelled Tucson, not Tuscon.

  26. Ummm, lessons in reading comprehension:

    This isn’t forfeiture, it’s a 30 day impoundment; the state does not take title of the property, and the owner (whether or not he was the driver) can ask for a hearing to have it released.

    The vehicles being towed/impounded are for such things like:
    Driver is arrested, having a suspended license AND no insurance AND was involved in a collision.
    Driver is arrested for driving on a suspended license AND that suspension was part of the penalty for another conviction of DSL
    The driver was arrested for DUI AND is under the age of 21.
    Driver is arrested as an extreme DUI, i.e., over 0.15 BAC
    The driver has no valid license, AND has never had a valid license in any US jurisdiction.
    The driver was arrested for having a revoked driver’s license.
    Again, this ain’t forfeiture. It’s the Legislature’s reaction to people who shouldn’t have been driving in the first place, but don’t seem to be getting the message.

    Think what that means when a single Arizona city is impounding cars from 1000 people in these categories every month.

    I will agree that the part about taking an illegal to the hospital is outrageous.

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