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AB-2876 Vehicles: removal and impound authority.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 06/12/2018 09:00 PM

Amended  IN  Senate  June 12, 2018


Assembly Bill No. 2876

Introduced by Assembly Member Jones-Sawyer

February 16, 2018

An act to amend Section 22650 of the Vehicle Code, relating to vehicle removal and impound.


AB 2876, as amended, Jones-Sawyer. Vehicles: removal and impound authority.
Existing law authorizes a peace officer to order the removal and storage of a vehicle under various circumstances including when the driver is incapacitated or has been arrested, the vehicle is unregistered, reported stolen, or has been used in a crime, or the vehicle is parked in a manner obstructing traffic or blocking access to a fire hydrant.
Judicial precedent deems the warrantless removal of a vehicle a seizure subject to the protections of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States that is permissible only pursuant to a recognized exception to the warrant requirement. Case law permits removal of a vehicle by a peace officer in furtherance of an officer’s criminal investigation function, such as removing a vehicle used in a crime for the collection or preservation of evidence, or pursuant to an officer’s community caretaking function, such as removing a vehicle to safeguard the vehicle’s contents, to ensure the safe flow of traffic, or to remove an illegally parked vehicle or a public nuisance. Case law has held that those statutory authorities that permit the removal of a vehicle when the driver is arrested are based on community caretaking and therefore may only reasonably be relied upon when the removal is reasonably necessary for a community caretaking reason such as safeguarding the vehicle or ensuring the flow of traffic.
This bill would clarify that the removal of a vehicle as authorized by California statute is also required to be constitutionally reasonable based on the specific situation. The bill would additionally provide that removal of a vehicle is only reasonable if it is justified by preventing a hazard to other drivers, protecting the public from unsafe drivers, or preventing theft or vandalism.
By limiting the circumstances under which a vehicle may be removed without first obtaining a warrant, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NOYES   Local Program: NOYES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


 Section 22650 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:

 (a) It is unlawful for any peace officer or any unauthorized person to remove any unattended vehicle from a highway to a garage or to any other place, except as provided in this code.
(b) The warrantless removal of a vehicle is a seizure under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and Section 13 of Article I of the California Constitution, and shall be reasonable. A The removal or storage of a vehicle pursuant to an authority, including, but not limited to, subdivision (h) of Section 22651, that is based on community caretaking, such as ensuring the safe flow of traffic or protecting property from theft or vandalism, is only reasonable if the removal is necessary to achieve the community caretaking need. the vehicle owner’s substantial interest in possessing his or her vehicle is outweighed by one or more of the following community caretaking justifications:
(1) Preventing a hazard to other drivers.
(2) Protecting the public from an unsafe driver.
(3) Preventing theft or vandalism.
(c) Those law enforcement and other agencies identified in this chapter as having the authority to remove vehicles shall also have the authority to provide hearings in compliance with the provisions of Section 22852. During these hearings the storing agency shall have the burden of establishing the authority for, and the validity of, the removal.
(d) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to prevent a review or other action as may be permitted by the laws of this state by a court of competent jurisdiction.

SEC. 2.

 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.