Can CA Vehicle Impoundment Laws Actually Reduce DWI-Related Car Accidents?

July 7, 2016 | Category: Car Accidents

Imposing sanctions can be an effective way to dissuade individuals from continuing bad behavior while creating an example that prevents other parties from doing the same thing. Since each Los Angeles car accident attorney at our firm has seen the after-effects of impaired driving, we support any action that can potentially reduce the problem.

Due to the complexities associated with alcohol and drug use, it is unlikely that impaired driving will ever be completely eradicated. However, California's vehicle impoundment laws can combine with many other intervention techniques to gain better control over a problem that kills about 10,000 people per year in the U.S.

Vehicle Impoundment is Just One Intervention Used in California

According to a vehicle impoundment intervention fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), California has two DWI-related impoundment laws:

  • The first law permits impoundment of vehicles for up to 30 days for first- or second-time DWI offenders. Impoundment can extend up to 90 days for third and subsequent offenses within five years of an earlier offense, and impoundment is not permitted in certain instances when it affects others connected to the vehicle.
  • The second law can impound a vehicle for up to six months for a first DWI offense and up to a year for subsequent offenses, but the circumstances for imposing these sanctions are unclear.

The justification for impounding vehicles involves either when a driver's blood alcohol content tests at 0.10 percent or more, or when a driver refuses to submit to chemical testing, according to Section 14602.8 of the California Vehicle Code.

Of course, vehicle impoundment is just one of many interventions used in the state. The law permits the installation of ignition interlocks, sobriety checkpoints and administrative license revocation or suspension. Naturally, programs exist to educate the public about the serious nature of the problem and provide early intervention.

The Effectiveness of Vehicle Impoundment is In Question

Since California law permits impoundment for a variety of offenses, including driving with a suspended or revoked license, the success rate of the law is not fully clear. Overall, it appears that vehicle impoundment is effective during the period of impoundment.

Further, although the crash rate for the drivers remained lower when the drivers regained their vehicles, this reduction generally occurred for about one year before drivers returned to their previous behaviors.

Substance abuse continues to be a major issue in the U.S., and it is an illness for which effective treatment methods still need further development. Unfortunately, every day, impaired driving takes the lives of innocent people, which is why it is so important for every state to continue to seek ways to prevent it.

If there is any silver lining to this issue, it might be that accident victims can generally establish liability relatively easily. However, legal cases can be complicated by potential criminal proceedings.

The lawyers at The Rudman Law Firm have extensive experience in coordinating the complexities of these cases to help preserve the rights of clients who are injured in impaired driving accidents. As soon as possible after these or any auto accident, call us at (844) 478-3626 / (844) 4RUDMAN, at our Los Angeles office at (213) 375-3777 or at our Studio City office (818) 769-6969.

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