Cops can impound your vehicle for a number of things, including multiple traffic violations, reckless driving, exhibition of speed and street racing. Although these are technically allegations until a judge or jury says otherwise, due process has been litigated out of existence by your trusty politicians and the bureaucrats who feed them.

Police are your judge and jury, and they will decide your punishment. They can take what is for many Angelenos their most valuable possession if they feel like it. (UCLA says half of all Angelenos are renters as opposed to homeowners.) We're pretty sure this isn't exactly what the Founders of the United States had in mind.

An L.A. city councilman wants to take it a step further and allow police to impound your vehicle even if you simply watch a street race.


This is a slippery slope. This would allow cops on the spot to decide if one person gets to keep her car and another doesn't. Say a family of four in a minivan happens upon a street race on its way home from a night run to Dairy Queen. An officer gets to be judge and jury here and declare the clan not guilty.

But if the driver is a young black or Latino man on his way home from a long night at the college library? He might not be so lucky. And you know that police have a documented habit of stopping and writing up minorities at much higher rates than whites.

And we'd just love to see cops impound a TV news van parked at the scene of a street race. A news crew is the ultimate spectator.

Nonetheless, Councilman Mitch Englander, a reserve LAPD cop who, his office notes, “regularly patrols our community in uniform,” wants his follow officers to be able to initiate 30-day impounds of cars stopped, parked or cruising near illegal street races.

The L.A. City Council yesterday unanimously approved his motion to have the police department and the City Attorney's Office “report on the feasibility of impounding vehicles owned by spectators at illegal street races and exhibitions as a way of discouraging individuals from attending these events.”

Englander introduced the motion in March following the deaths of two spectators struck when a Ford Mustang went out of control at a Chatsworth street race in February.  

The councilman wants LAPD to step up enforcement at street racing events, which he argues are easier to pull off as a result of the instant organizing capabilities of social media. And he wants cops to use the full force of California law in impounding racers' cars.

Interestingly, California law already says that spectators' cars can be seized by police.

Englander's motion says:

With the recent deaths of two spectators at an illegal race in Chatsworth, the city must work to fully understand this problem and what efforts are being undertaken by the police department (LAPD) to curb these dangerous activities.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.

LA Weekly