Testimony for Hearing on Bill AB60

Presented by Don Rosenberg, April 22, 2013 to AB60 Assembly Hearing:

On July 5, 2011 my wife and I came to Sacramento to testify in opposition to Senator Mike Allen’s impound bill. It had been a little over 7 months since my 25 year old son Drew; a second year law student had been run over and killed by an unlicensed driver in San Francisco. We were mainly concentrating on the criminal case against the man who killed my son as the San Francisco DA’s office had screwed up every element of what should have been a “slam dunk” felony vehicular homicide.

About two months before the hearing, I started to do some research on unlicensed drivers.  As we had been told the driver who was from Honduras was in the country legally so my research focused on unlicensed drivers. That research quickly took me to illegal immigration, not the other way around. By pure chance I found out about Senator Allen’s bill on Sunday July 3rd. We did not know until we arrived in Sacramento that Gil Cedillo also had an impound bill that would be heard that afternoon. We were not in Sacramento to debate immigration. We were there to debate public safety.

The research I had done was very clear and incontrovertible about the dangers of unlicensed drivers and those driving on suspended or revoked licenses. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety had issued 2 reports covering over 15 years of driving statistics clearly outlining the dangers of unlicensed drivers and those driving on suspended and revoked licenses. Unfortunately those first reports combined unlicensed and suspended and revoked statistics. After the morning testimony Senator Allen withdrew the impound part of his bill. In the afternoon my wife testified against the Cedillo Bill AB353 in front of the Senate Public Safety Committee. After testifying Cedillo walked past me and I politely tried to hand him my business card and said to please call me. His terse response, “Get away from me”. I once again said please take my card and call me. Again, he said, “Get away from me” and walked away.

I wanted to talk to him about withdrawing the impound bill and in exchange I would support a driver’s license bill for illegal immigrants. What better spokesperson than someone whose son had just been killed by an unlicensed driver.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck was trying to stop impounding cars of unlicensed drivers and I appeared in front of the Los Angeles Police Commission numerous times in opposition. On February 10, 2012 I met with Chief Beck trying to convince him to drop his new impound policy and support licenses for illegal immigrants. He went ahead with the policy and on February 23, less than two weeks later called for driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.

From the day after the Cedillo bill passed through the LA Police Commission hearing where they approved their new policy I spent almost every night and most weekends researching this issue.  Since March 2012 after finishing a consulting project that literally began a few weeks after my son was killed I have spent most of my time researching this issue, reaching out to the survivors of other victims, meeting with some California legislators and some US Congressmen. I’ve also spent considerable time both fighting with the San Francisco DA’s office, and then the Department of Homeland Security to get the man who killed my son deported. I’ve also testified in front of the Senate Transportation Committee last year in successful opposition to Assemblywoman Ma’s bill AB 1993 which would have stopped impounding cars of unlicensed drivers almost all of the time. Although the bill was killed in committee it was a hollow victory as most jurisdictions in California are not impounding many cars anyway.

I have now spent literally thousands of hours researching this issue. What I have learned makes me glad that Cedillo didn’t take me up on my offer. In short it’s not an issue of not knowing the rules of the road that makes these drivers so deadly. It’s their irresponsible behavior and recklessness. Licensing many of these individuals will not make the roads safer, will not reduce collisions, will not reduce fatalities and will increase hit and runs which in most California major cities can’t be described as an epidemic but more like a plague.

In December 2012 the DMV released a report, Estimation of Fatal Car Crash Rates for Suspended/Revoked and Unlicensed Drivers in California. The report stated that unlicensed drivers were three times more likely to cause a fatal car collision. Those numbers are seriously understated.  Last month I filed Freedom of Information Requests with the police departments and sheriff’s offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Santa Ana, Anaheim, San Diego, Los Angeles County and Ventura County.  One thing that was clear was the poor collection or no collection at all of data regarding unlicensed drivers. Considering how deadly a crime it is and all of the policy changes which are in essence nothing more than ignoring state law you would think that powers to be would want to know the impact of their decisions. Or then maybe because of the reprehensible political nature of these decisions they really don’t want to know.

The DMV report clearly stated that licensed drivers were safer drivers than unlicensed drivers. Immediately immigration rights groups, the same groups that for years had said that illegal immigrants were the safest drivers because they didn’t want to get caught, the LA Times, the Sacramento Bee and other newspapers concluded that licensing illegal immigrants would make them safer drivers. They all said that this report made that recommendation. If you’ve read the report you would see that the only recommendation in the report is to impound the cars of unlicensed drivers.

What everyone missed, or purposely ignored, was stated twice in the report. “The finding that the annual fatal crash over involvement rate for unlicensed drivers did not change following enactment of Vehicle Code Section 12801.5 suggests that unlicensed drivers who are ineligible to become licensed under this law are just as hazardous as drivers who are unlicensed for other reasons. If they were truly safer drivers it would be expected that their increasing representation among unlicensed drivers after the law took effect would be associated with a concurrent reduction in the fatal crash over involvement rate for unlicensed drivers as an overall group, which isn’t represented by the study findings.” In other words, although this group was licensed prior to 1994 as a group they were just as bad drivers as those who were unlicensed.

I contacted DMV spokesperson Jessica Gonzalez in an attempt to ask the author of the report the following question. “Many people and many media organizations are claiming that this report says if we license unlicensed drivers they will become safer drivers. Do you agree with that interpretation of your study? The response came from Research and Development Acting Branch Chief Robert Hagge.
“No, I do not agree with this interpretation.  There is nothing in our report that would indicate, one way or the other, whether licensing existing unlicensed drivers would make them safer drivers”.

 

Okay, so we know this group was bad drivers when they had licenses they were bad drivers without licenses will they be Safe and Responsible drivers if we allow them to get licenses again? The existing evidence says no.

 

The best research comes out of New Mexico where licenses were offered regardless of immigration status starting in 1993. Prior to the change in the law traffic fatalities over the prior 20 years had been consistently decreasing from a high of 577 in 1982 to 439 in 2003. The first year after the licensing change the fatality rate rose 17.5% to 532. In 2005 there were 488 fatalities and in 2006 the number was 484. At the same time traffic fatalities were dropping in almost every other state.

 

According to the New Mexico Department of Transportation over 70% of all traffic fatalities were caused by alcohol/drug-involved, distracted driving, excessive speed and disregarding traffic controls (lights and stop signs). None of these reasons would be lessened by obtaining a driver’s license. In fact in California at any given time 2 million people have had their license suspended or revoked. What they all have in common is that at one time they passed the driving tests.

 

We know from the AAA study that 48% of all unlicensed driver caused traffic fatalities involve drunk driving. The rate for all licensed drivers is 20%. Licensing drivers will not stop them from driving drunk. According to the DMV in their 2012 Annual Report of the California DUI Management Information System, a report which is required by law to be delivered to the legislature annually, “ Among 2010 DUI arrestees, Hispanics again constituted the largest racial/ethnic group as they have each year since 1992 (with the exception of 1999). Hispanics continue to be arrested at a rate substantially higher than their estimated percentage of California’s adult population. I fully realize that there are illegal immigrants who are not Hispanic but over 80% are Hispanic. The specific numbers are not available but looking at the number of unlicensed drivers and the rate of fatalities it is quite possible that the California Hispanic population who are either citizens or legally domiciled probably have no higher a percentage of DUI arrests than the population as a whole. It appears to be the illegal immigrant population that skews the Hispanic numbers so high.

 

Additionally, the New Mexico Department of Transportation reported significant increases in speeding vehicles as a contributing factor in crashes after issuing licenses to illegal immigrants. In 2003 speeding vehicles in crashes had followed a downward trend and bottomed out at 6,506 out of a total number of crashes of 89,932. The following year the number of crashes increased to 97,755 an 8 percent increase. Those where speeding was a contributing factor increased to 8,393 a 22 percent increase. The number of total crashes where speeding was a contributing factor remained above the pre-licensing 2003 level until 2008. The percent of speeding as a contributing factor still remains slightly above 2003 levels through the last available statistics in 2010.

The other claim is that licensing will allow these drivers to purchase insurance. In California you can be an insured driver without having a license. While I question the legality of that many second tier insurance companies will insure anyone regardless of license status. Again looking at what happened in New Mexico is not particularly encouraging. According to the Insurance Research Council, an independent, nonprofit research organization supported by leading property and casualty insurance companies and associations including State Farm and Farmers, two supporters of this bill, prior to the New Mexico licensing bill 26% of drivers did not have insurance. By 2008 that number had increased to over 29% making New Mexico the number one state for uninsured drivers. That number has now dropped to slightly below 26%.

 

J. Tim Query, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Risk Management and Insurance at New Mexico State University said the following about New Mexico’s licensing of all. “If the policy is motivated by a lowering of uninsured motorists or decreasing accidents, I think it has had an insignificant effect. Being one of only two states, Washington being the other, which allows undocumented immigrants to obtain a state-issued driver’s license, increases the probability of fraud.” According to the Pew Hispanic Center the illegal immigrant population in New Mexico is between 55,000 and 85,000. To date they have issued over 80,000 licenses. An associated Press investigation last year found a striking pattern in New Mexico of illegal immigrants gaming the system to obtain a license. In one instance 48 illegal immigrants claimed to live at a smoke shop. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas who revealed his illegal immigration status in 2011 chronicled how he obtained his Washington State driver’s license despite providing an address where he did not reside.

 

And of course the counterfeiting of driver’s licenses and other government documents is rampant. The August 2011 issue of DMV reported the arrest of a large counterfeiting ring.

 

“The practice of using fake IDs is constantly evolving and getting more sophisticated. From a

homeland security perspective, this is a threat to not only public safety, but national security. The

illegal operation we shut down was putting dangerous drivers on the road and endangering the

public,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. Funny he had no problem encouraging dangerous drivers to get on the road a few months later.

 

In February 2012, the DMV reported another bust of a document counterfeiting ring. In this case it wasn’t just driver’s licenses but as the DMV said, “large quantities of counterfeit government document manufacturing materials as well as completed government documents and documents in the process of being manufactured”.

 

In February 2012 when the LAPD essentially stopped impounding most cars of unlicensed drivers Chief Beck claimed that the new policy of requiring a validly registered car, a proper ID, valid insurance and no prior convictions would make these drivers more responsible. The policy went into effect in mid-April. So what happened?  In Chief Beck’s interdepartmental correspondence to the Board of Police Commissioners on February 22, 2013 he reported the following:

 

  • Impounds were down 39%
  • Hit and Run collisions were down approximately one percent
  • Total traffic collisions and fatal and severe injury collisions experienced minor increases

 

Note that hit and run collisions were down approximately one percent while total traffic collisions experienced minor collisions. It’s true that hit and runs were down approximately one percent. .087 to be precise. And total traffic collisions did experience a minor increase which was actually 1.02%. But fatalities and severe injury collisions were up 6.8% hardly a minor increase to the additional 75 people severely injured or killed. The chief has been trying to spin away the fact that 43% of collisions in Los Angeles are hit and runs and that illegal immigrants driving in Los Angeles is a major public safety issue.

So why are so many people in this group such reckless and irresponsible drivers? We know from the AAA and DMV statistics that drunk driving is a major problem impacting almost 50% of all fatalities. But why do they speed, run stops signs and red lights at numbers that far exceed licensed drivers? One only has to look at where most of them learned how to drive. The World Health Organization reports that while traffic fatalities have been plummeting in the United States they have been increasing in Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador and most of Central America. Enforcement of driving laws across the region is fair at best and Mexico is rated as poor. Mexico’s road fatalities are 80% higher than the United States per 100,000 drivers and every country in the region is higher than the United States. Measured against the number of vehicles the numbers fly off the charts. While the United States registers 15 deaths per 100,000 vehicles the range in Mexico and Central America is a low of 78 deaths and a high of 249 deaths per 100,000 vehicles. That equates to 500% to 1600% higher.

If the threat of impoundment at a very high financial cost and even deportation did not make these drivers act more carefully and more responsibly why would we think that granting them a driver’s license, no chance of car impoundment and possibly no chance of deportation will change their driving habits.

Let’s assume that immigration reform makes licensing illegal immigrants a moot point but this bill is now law. Do we really want to allow the new crop of illegal immigrants the right to get a driver’s license? And what about those who cannot pass the test or for whatever reason chose not to get a license? Can we really expect San Francisco DA George Gascón who is cracking down on bicycles but refuses to stop unlicensed drivers and has publicly said the If you are here illegally or are poor it’s okay to drive without a license to suddenly start to enforce a law he has ignored for years.. He justifies this absurd statement that it will decrease hit and runs. Well, my son was alive after being hit by Roberto Galo. It was when he tried to flee that he killed him. And how would he know anything about unlicensed drivers, collisions and hit and runs? In my Freedom of Information filing Maureen Conefry responding for the San Francisco Police Department said the following, “I have been advised by our Traffic Company that we do not track traffic collisions involving unlicensed drivers or drivers with suspended or revoked licenses.” And their 2012 collision report lists the last hit and run occurring on February 5. So from Jan 1, 2012 through February 5, 2012 26% of all reported collisions were hit and runs and then there were no more the rest of the year.

And what about Attorney General Kamala Harris who despite her legal responsibility under Article 5 Section 13 of the California Constitution which states, “.  It shall be the duty of the Attorney General to see that the laws of the State are uniformly and adequately enforced refuses to enforce the vehicle code as it relates to unlicensed drivers.Since my son was killed close to 2,000 people have been killed in California by unlicensed drivers and those with suspended and revoked licenses. Her response to Charlie Beck on his new policy…you can do whatever you want.

 

And if you’re going to legitimize all of these bad drivers how about updating our insurance requirements? Our minimum insurance requirements put us at or near the bottom in every category. Kill or injure someone and the minimum benefit puts us third from the bottom of all 50 states and the District of Columbia at $15,000. Cause property damage and we are dead last at $5,000.

 

Even if I supported this bill in principle it has many flaws the least of which is not addressing how those who continue to break the law will be dealt with and how to close the gaping holes in our insurance requirements. I met with Assemblyman Jeff Gorell a little over a month ago to discuss at the time Assemblywoman Brown’s impound bill and this bill and provided him with a letter outlining what should be done. I have copies for you. I am also more than willing to share any and all of my research and all of the Freedom of Information data I have received to date and any I will receive in the future.

 

Finally, every time this legislature and governor, then mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsome, San Francisco George Gascón, then District attorney and now Attorney General Kamala Harris, LAPD Chief Beck and the Los Angeles Police Commission and so many other “public servants” help illegal immigrants drive, more innocent law abiding people die.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On July 5, 2011 my wife and I came to Sacramento to testify in opposition to Senator Mike Allen’s impound bill. It had been a little over 7 months since my 25 year old son Drew; a second year law student had been run over and killed by an unlicensed driver in San Francisco. We were mainly concentrating on the criminal case against the man who killed my son as the San Francisco DA’s office had screwed up every element of what should have been a “slam dunk” felony vehicular homicide.

About two months before the hearing, I started to do some research on unlicensed drivers.  As we had been told the driver who was from Honduras was in the country legally so my research focused on unlicensed drivers. That research quickly took me to illegal immigration, not the other way around. By pure chance I found out about Senator Allen’s bill on Sunday July 3rd. We did not know until we arrived in Sacramento that Gil Cedillo also had an impound bill that would be heard that afternoon. We were not in Sacramento to debate immigration. We were there to debate public safety.

The research I had done was very clear and incontrovertible about the dangers of unlicensed drivers and those driving on suspended or revoked licenses. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety had issued 2 reports covering over 15 years of driving statistics clearly outlining the dangers of unlicensed drivers and those driving on suspended and revoked licenses. Unfortunately those first reports combined unlicensed and suspended and revoked statistics. After the morning testimony Senator Allen withdrew the impound part of his bill. In the afternoon my wife testified against the Cedillo Bill AB353 in front of the Senate Public Safety Committee. After testifying Cedillo walked past me and I politely tried to hand him my business card and said to please call me. His terse response, “Get away from me”. I once again said please take my card and call me. Again, he said, “Get away from me” and walked away.

I wanted to talk to him about withdrawing the impound bill and in exchange I would support a driver’s license bill for illegal immigrants. What better spokesperson than someone whose son had just been killed by an unlicensed driver.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck was trying to stop impounding cars of unlicensed drivers and I appeared in front of the Los Angeles Police Commission numerous times in opposition. On February 10, 2012 I met with Chief Beck trying to convince him to drop his new impound policy and support licenses for illegal immigrants. He went ahead with the policy and on February 23, less than two weeks later called for driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.

From the day after the Cedillo bill passed through the LA Police Commission hearing where they approved their new policy I spent almost every night and most weekends researching this issue.  Since March 2012 after finishing a consulting project that literally began a few weeks after my son was killed I have spent most of my time researching this issue, reaching out to the survivors of other victims, meeting with some California legislators and some US Congressmen. I’ve also spent considerable time both fighting with the San Francisco DA’s office, and then the Department of Homeland Security to get the man who killed my son deported. I’ve also testified in front of the Senate Transportation Committee last year in successful opposition to Assemblywoman Ma’s bill AB 1993 which would have stopped impounding cars of unlicensed drivers almost all of the time. Although the bill was killed in committee it was a hollow victory as most jurisdictions in California are not impounding many cars anyway. 

I have now spent literally thousands of hours researching this issue. What I have learned makes me glad that Cedillo didn’t take me up on my offer. In short it’s not an issue of not knowing the rules of the road that makes these drivers so deadly. It’s their irresponsible behavior and recklessness. Licensing many of these individuals will not make the roads safer, will not reduce collisions, will not reduce fatalities and will increase hit and runs which in most California major cities can’t be described as an epidemic but more like a plague.

In December 2012 the DMV released a report, Estimation of Fatal Car Crash Rates for Suspended/Revoked and Unlicensed Drivers in California. The report stated that unlicensed drivers were three times more likely to cause a fatal car collision. Those numbers are seriously understated.  Last month I filed Freedom of Information Requests with the police departments and sheriff’s offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Santa Ana, Anaheim, San Diego, Los Angeles County and Ventura County.  One thing that was clear was the poor collection or no collection at all of data regarding unlicensed drivers. Considering how deadly a crime it is and all of the policy changes which are in essence nothing more than ignoring state law you would think that powers to be would want to know the impact of their decisions. Or then maybe because of the reprehensible political nature of these decisions they really don’t want to know.

The DMV report clearly stated that licensed drivers were safer drivers than unlicensed drivers. Immediately immigration rights groups, the same groups that for years had said that illegal immigrants were the safest drivers because they didn’t want to get caught, the LA Times, the Sacramento Bee and other newspapers concluded that licensing illegal immigrants would make them safer drivers. They all said that this report made that recommendation. If you’ve read the report you would see that the only recommendation in the report is to impound the cars of unlicensed drivers.

What everyone missed, or purposely ignored, was stated twice in the report. “The finding that the annual fatal crash over involvement rate for unlicensed drivers did not change following enactment of Vehicle Code Section 12801.5 suggests that unlicensed drivers who are ineligible to become licensed under this law are just as hazardous as drivers who are unlicensed for other reasons. If they were truly safer drivers it would be expected that their increasing representation among unlicensed drivers after the law took effect would be associated with a concurrent reduction in the fatal crash over involvement rate for unlicensed drivers as an overall group, which isn’t represented by the study findings.” In other words, although this group was licensed prior to 1994 as a group they were just as bad drivers as those who were unlicensed.

I contacted DMV spokesperson Jessica Gonzalez in an attempt to ask the author of the report the following question. “Manypeople and many media organizations are claiming that this report says if we license unlicensed drivers they will become safer drivers. Do you agree with that interpretation of your study? The response came from Research and Development Acting Branch Chief Robert Hagge.


“No, I do not agree with this interpretation.  There is nothing in our report that would indicate, one way or the other, whether licensing existing unlicensed drivers would make them safer drivers”.

 

Okay, so we know this group was bad drivers when they had licenses they were bad drivers without licenses will they be Safe and Responsible drivers if we allow them to get licenses again? The existing evidence says no.

 

The best research comes out of New Mexico where licenses were offered regardless of immigration status starting in 1993. Prior to the change in the law traffic fatalities over the prior 20 years had been consistently decreasing from a high of 577 in 1982 to 439 in 2003. The first year after the licensing change the fatality rate rose 17.5% to 532. In 2005 there were 488 fatalities and in 2006 the number was 484. At the same time traffic fatalities were dropping in almost every other state.

 

According to the New Mexico Department of Transportation over 70% of all traffic fatalities were caused by alcohol/drug-involved, distracted driving, excessive speed and disregarding traffic controls (lights and stop signs). None of these reasons would be lessened by obtaining a driver’s license. In fact in California at any given time 2 million people have had their license suspended or revoked. What they all have in common is that at one time they passed the driving tests.

 

We know from the AAA study that 48% of all unlicensed driver caused traffic fatalities involve drunk driving. The rate for all licensed drivers is 20%. Licensing drivers will not stop them from driving drunk. According to the DMV in their 2012 Annual Report of the California DUI Management Information System, a report which is required by law to be delivered to the legislature annually, “ Among 2010 DUI arrestees, Hispanics again constituted the largest racial/ethnic group as they have each year since 1992 (with the exception of 1999). Hispanics continue to be arrested at a rate substantially higher than their estimated percentage of California’s adult population. I fully realize that there are illegal immigrants who are not Hispanic but over 80% are Hispanic. The specific numbers are not available but looking at the number of unlicensed drivers and the rate of fatalities it is quite possible that the California Hispanic population who are either citizens or legally domiciled probably have no higher a percentage of DUI arrests than the population as a whole. It appears to be the illegal immigrant population that skews the Hispanic numbers so high.

 

Additionally, the New Mexico Department of Transportation reported significant increases in speeding vehicles as a contributing factor in crashes after issuing licenses to illegal immigrants. In 2003 speeding vehicles in crashes had followed a downward trend and bottomed out at 6,506 out of a total number of crashes of 89,932. The following year the number of crashes increased to 97,755 an 8 percent increase. Those where speeding was a contributing factor increased to 8,393 a 22 percent increase. The number of total crashes where speeding was a contributing factor remained above the pre-licensing 2003 level until 2008. The percent of speeding as a contributing factor still remains slightly above 2003 levels through the last available statistics in 2010.

The other claim is that licensing will allow these drivers to purchase insurance. In California you can be an insured driver without having a license. While I question the legality of that many second tier insurance companies will insure anyone regardless of license status. Again looking at what happened in New Mexico is not particularly encouraging. According to the Insurance Research Council, an independent, nonprofit research organization supported by leading property and casualty insurance companies and associations including State Farm and Farmers, two supporters of this bill, prior to the New Mexico licensing bill 26% of drivers did not have insurance. By 2008 that number had increased to over 29% making New Mexico the number one state for uninsured drivers. That number has now dropped to slightly below 26%.

 

J. Tim Query, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Risk Management and Insurance at New Mexico State University said the following about New Mexico’s licensing of all. “If the policy is motivated by a lowering of uninsured motorists or decreasing accidents, I think it has had an insignificant effect. Being one of only two states, Washington being the other, which allows undocumented immigrants to obtain a state-issued driver’s license, increases the probability of fraud.” According to the Pew Hispanic Center the illegal immigrant population in New Mexico is between 55,000 and 85,000. To date they have issued over 80,000 licenses. An associated Press investigation last year found a striking pattern in New Mexico of illegal immigrants gaming the system to obtain a license. In one instance 48 illegal immigrants claimed to live at a smoke shop. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas who revealed his illegal immigration status in 2011 chronicled how he obtained his Washington State driver’s license despite providing an address where he did not reside.

 

And of course the counterfeiting of driver’s licenses and other government documents is rampant. The August 2011 issue of DMV reported the arrest of a large counterfeiting ring.

 

“The practice of using fake IDs is constantly evolving and getting more sophisticated. From a

homeland security perspective, this is a threat to not only public safety, but national security. The

illegal operation we shut down was putting dangerous drivers on the road and endangering the

public,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. Funny he had no problem encouraging dangerous drivers to get on the road a few months later.

 

In February 2012, the DMV reported another bust of a document counterfeiting ring. In this case it wasn’t just driver’s licenses but as the DMV said, “large quantities of counterfeit government document manufacturing materials as well as completed government documents and documents in the process of being manufactured”.

 

In February 2012 when the LAPD essentially stopped impounding most cars of unlicensed drivers Chief Beck claimed that the new policy of requiring a validly registered car, a proper ID, valid insurance and no prior convictions would make these drivers more responsible. The policy went into effect in mid-April. So what happened?  In Chief Beck’s interdepartmental correspondence to the Board of Police Commissioners on February 22, 2013 he reported the following:

 

·         Impounds were down 39%

·         Hit and Run collisions were down approximately one percent

·         Total traffic collisions and fatal and severe injury collisions experienced minor increases

 

Note that hit and run collisions were down approximately one percent while total traffic collisions experienced minor collisions. It’s true that hit and runs were down approximately one percent. .087 to be precise. And total traffic collisions did experience a minor increase which was actually 1.02%. But fatalities and severe injury collisions were up 6.8% hardly a minor increase to the additional 75 people severely injured or killed. The chief has been trying to spin away the fact that 43% of collisions in Los Angeles are hit and runs and that illegal immigrants driving in Los Angeles is a major public safety issue.

So why are so many people in this group such reckless and irresponsible drivers? We know from the AAA and DMV statistics that drunk driving is a major problem impacting almost 50% of all fatalities. But why do they speed, run stops signs and red lights at numbers that far exceed licensed drivers? One only has to look at where most of them learned how to drive. The World Health Organization reports that while traffic fatalities have been plummeting in the United States they have been increasing in Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador and most of Central America. Enforcement of driving laws across the region is fair at best and Mexico is rated as poor. Mexico’s road fatalities are 80% higher than the United States per 100,000 drivers and every country in the region is higher than the United States. Measured against the number of vehicles the numbers fly off the charts. While the United States registers 15 deaths per 100,000 vehicles the range in Mexico and Central America is a low of 78 deaths and a high of 249 deaths per 100,000 vehicles. That equates to 500% to 1600% higher.

If the threat of impoundment at a very high financial cost and even deportation did not make these drivers act more carefully and more responsibly why would we think that granting them a driver’s license, no chance of car impoundment and possibly no chance of deportation will change their driving habits.

Let’s assume that immigration reform makes licensing illegal immigrants a moot point but this bill is now law. Do we really want to allow the new crop of illegal immigrants the right to get a driver’s license? And what about those who cannot pass the test or for whatever reason chose not to get a license? Can we really expect San Francisco DA George Gascón who is cracking down on bicycles but refuses to stop unlicensed drivers and has publicly said the If you are here illegally or are poor it’s okay to drive without a license to suddenly start to enforce a law he has ignored for years.. He justifies this absurd statement that it will decrease hit and runs. Well, my son was alive after being hit by Roberto Galo. It was when he tried to flee that he killed him. And how would he know anything about unlicensed drivers, collisions and hit and runs? In my Freedom of Information filing Maureen Conefry responding for the San Francisco Police Department said the following, “I have been advised by our Traffic Company that we do not track traffic collisions involving unlicensed drivers or drivers with suspended or revoked licenses.” And their 2012 collision report lists the last hit and run occurring on February 5. So from Jan 1, 2012 through February 5, 2012 26% of all reported collisions were hit and runs and then there were no more the rest of the year.

And what about Attorney General Kamala Harris who despite her legal responsibility under Article 5 Section 13 of the California Constitution which states, “.  It shall be the duty of the Attorney General to see that the laws of the State are uniformly and adequately enforced refuses to enforce the vehicle code as it relates to unlicensed drivers.Since my son was killed close to 2,000 people have been killed in California by unlicensed drivers and those with suspended and revoked licenses. Her response to Charlie Beck on his new policy…you can do whatever you want.

 

And if you’re going to legitimize all of these bad drivers how about updating our insurance requirements? Our minimum insurance requirements put us at or near the bottom in every category. Kill or injure someone and the minimum benefit puts us third from the bottom of all 50 states and the District of Columbia at $15,000. Cause property damage and we are dead last at $5,000.

 

Even if I supported this bill in principle it has many flaws the least of which is not addressing how those who continue to break the law will be dealt with and how to close the gaping holes in our insurance requirements. I met with Assemblyman Jeff Gorell a little over a month ago to discuss at the time Assemblywoman Brown’s impound bill and this bill and provided him with a letter outlining what should be done. I have copies for you. I am also more than willing to share any and all of my research and all of the Freedom of Information data I have received to date and any I will receive in the future.

 

Finally, every time this legislature and governor, then mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsome, San Francisco George Gascón, then District attorney and now Attorney General Kamala Harris, LAPD Chief Beck and the Los Angeles Police Commission and so many other “public servants” help illegal immigrants drive, more innocent law abiding people die.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On July 5, 2011 my wife and I came to Sacramento to testify in opposition to Senator Mike Allen’s impound bill. It had been a little over 7 months since my 25 year old son Drew; a second year law student had been run over and killed by an unlicensed driver in San Francisco. We were mainly concentrating on the criminal case against the man who killed my son as the San Francisco DA’s office had screwed up every element of what should have been a “slam dunk” felony vehicular homicide.

About two months before the hearing, I started to do some research on unlicensed drivers.  As we had been told the driver who was from Honduras was in the country legally so my research focused on unlicensed drivers. That research quickly took me to illegal immigration, not the other way around. By pure chance I found out about Senator Allen’s bill on Sunday July 3rd. We did not know until we arrived in Sacramento that Gil Cedillo also had an impound bill that would be heard that afternoon. We were not in Sacramento to debate immigration. We were there to debate public safety.

The research I had done was very clear and incontrovertible about the dangers of unlicensed drivers and those driving on suspended or revoked licenses. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety had issued 2 reports covering over 15 years of driving statistics clearly outlining the dangers of unlicensed drivers and those driving on suspended and revoked licenses. Unfortunately those first reports combined unlicensed and suspended and revoked statistics. After the morning testimony Senator Allen withdrew the impound part of his bill. In the afternoon my wife testified against the Cedillo Bill AB353 in front of the Senate Public Safety Committee. After testifying Cedillo walked past me and I politely tried to hand him my business card and said to please call me. His terse response, “Get away from me”. I once again said please take my card and call me. Again, he said, “Get away from me” and walked away.

I wanted to talk to him about withdrawing the impound bill and in exchange I would support a driver’s license bill for illegal immigrants. What better spokesperson than someone whose son had just been killed by an unlicensed driver.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck was trying to stop impounding cars of unlicensed drivers and I appeared in front of the Los Angeles Police Commission numerous times in opposition. On February 10, 2012 I met with Chief Beck trying to convince him to drop his new impound policy and support licenses for illegal immigrants. He went ahead with the policy and on February 23, less than two weeks later called for driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.

From the day after the Cedillo bill passed through the LA Police Commission hearing where they approved their new policy I spent almost every night and most weekends researching this issue.  Since March 2012 after finishing a consulting project that literally began a few weeks after my son was killed I have spent most of my time researching this issue, reaching out to the survivors of other victims, meeting with some California legislators and some US Congressmen. I’ve also spent considerable time both fighting with the San Francisco DA’s office, and then the Department of Homeland Security to get the man who killed my son deported. I’ve also testified in front of the Senate Transportation Committee last year in successful opposition to Assemblywoman Ma’s bill AB 1993 which would have stopped impounding cars of unlicensed drivers almost all of the time. Although the bill was killed in committee it was a hollow victory as most jurisdictions in California are not impounding many cars anyway. 

I have now spent literally thousands of hours researching this issue. What I have learned makes me glad that Cedillo didn’t take me up on my offer. In short it’s not an issue of not knowing the rules of the road that makes these drivers so deadly. It’s their irresponsible behavior and recklessness. Licensing many of these individuals will not make the roads safer, will not reduce collisions, will not reduce fatalities and will increase hit and runs which in most California major cities can’t be described as an epidemic but more like a plague.

In December 2012 the DMV released a report, Estimation of Fatal Car Crash Rates for Suspended/Revoked and Unlicensed Drivers in California. The report stated that unlicensed drivers were three times more likely to cause a fatal car collision. Those numbers are seriously understated.  Last month I filed Freedom of Information Requests with the police departments and sheriff’s offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Santa Ana, Anaheim, San Diego, Los Angeles County and Ventura County.  One thing that was clear was the poor collection or no collection at all of data regarding unlicensed drivers. Considering how deadly a crime it is and all of the policy changes which are in essence nothing more than ignoring state law you would think that powers to be would want to know the impact of their decisions. Or then maybe because of the reprehensible political nature of these decisions they really don’t want to know.

The DMV report clearly stated that licensed drivers were safer drivers than unlicensed drivers. Immediately immigration rights groups, the same groups that for years had said that illegal immigrants were the safest drivers because they didn’t want to get caught, the LA Times, the Sacramento Bee and other newspapers concluded that licensing illegal immigrants would make them safer drivers. They all said that this report made that recommendation. If you’ve read the report you would see that the only recommendation in the report is to impound the cars of unlicensed drivers.

What everyone missed, or purposely ignored, was stated twice in the report. “The finding that the annual fatal crash over involvement rate for unlicensed drivers did not change following enactment of Vehicle Code Section 12801.5 suggests that unlicensed drivers who are ineligible to become licensed under this law are just as hazardous as drivers who are unlicensed for other reasons. If they were truly safer drivers it would be expected that their increasing representation among unlicensed drivers after the law took effect would be associated with a concurrent reduction in the fatal crash over involvement rate for unlicensed drivers as an overall group, which isn’t represented by the study findings.” In other words, although this group was licensed prior to 1994 as a group they were just as bad drivers as those who were unlicensed.

I contacted DMV spokesperson Jessica Gonzalez in an attempt to ask the author of the report the following question. “Manypeople and many media organizations are claiming that this report says if we license unlicensed drivers they will become safer drivers. Do you agree with that interpretation of your study? The response came from Research and Development Acting Branch Chief Robert Hagge.


“No, I do not agree with this interpretation.  There is nothing in our report that would indicate, one way or the other, whether licensing existing unlicensed drivers would make them safer drivers”.

 

Okay, so we know this group was bad drivers when they had licenses they were bad drivers without licenses will they be Safe and Responsible drivers if we allow them to get licenses again? The existing evidence says no.

 

The best research comes out of New Mexico where licenses were offered regardless of immigration status starting in 1993. Prior to the change in the law traffic fatalities over the prior 20 years had been consistently decreasing from a high of 577 in 1982 to 439 in 2003. The first year after the licensing change the fatality rate rose 17.5% to 532. In 2005 there were 488 fatalities and in 2006 the number was 484. At the same time traffic fatalities were dropping in almost every other state.

 

According to the New Mexico Department of Transportation over 70% of all traffic fatalities were caused by alcohol/drug-involved, distracted driving, excessive speed and disregarding traffic controls (lights and stop signs). None of these reasons would be lessened by obtaining a driver’s license. In fact in California at any given time 2 million people have had their license suspended or revoked. What they all have in common is that at one time they passed the driving tests.

 

We know from the AAA study that 48% of all unlicensed driver caused traffic fatalities involve drunk driving. The rate for all licensed drivers is 20%. Licensing drivers will not stop them from driving drunk. According to the DMV in their 2012 Annual Report of the California DUI Management Information System, a report which is required by law to be delivered to the legislature annually, “ Among 2010 DUI arrestees, Hispanics again constituted the largest racial/ethnic group as they have each year since 1992 (with the exception of 1999). Hispanics continue to be arrested at a rate substantially higher than their estimated percentage of California’s adult population. I fully realize that there are illegal immigrants who are not Hispanic but over 80% are Hispanic. The specific numbers are not available but looking at the number of unlicensed drivers and the rate of fatalities it is quite possible that the California Hispanic population who are either citizens or legally domiciled probably have no higher a percentage of DUI arrests than the population as a whole. It appears to be the illegal immigrant population that skews the Hispanic numbers so high.

 

Additionally, the New Mexico Department of Transportation reported significant increases in speeding vehicles as a contributing factor in crashes after issuing licenses to illegal immigrants. In 2003 speeding vehicles in crashes had followed a downward trend and bottomed out at 6,506 out of a total number of crashes of 89,932. The following year the number of crashes increased to 97,755 an 8 percent increase. Those where speeding was a contributing factor increased to 8,393 a 22 percent increase. The number of total crashes where speeding was a contributing factor remained above the pre-licensing 2003 level until 2008. The percent of speeding as a contributing factor still remains slightly above 2003 levels through the last available statistics in 2010.

The other claim is that licensing will allow these drivers to purchase insurance. In California you can be an insured driver without having a license. While I question the legality of that many second tier insurance companies will insure anyone regardless of license status. Again looking at what happened in New Mexico is not particularly encouraging. According to the Insurance Research Council, an independent, nonprofit research organization supported by leading property and casualty insurance companies and associations including State Farm and Farmers, two supporters of this bill, prior to the New Mexico licensing bill 26% of drivers did not have insurance. By 2008 that number had increased to over 29% making New Mexico the number one state for uninsured drivers. That number has now dropped to slightly below 26%.

 

J. Tim Query, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Risk Management and Insurance at New Mexico State University said the following about New Mexico’s licensing of all. “If the policy is motivated by a lowering of uninsured motorists or decreasing accidents, I think it has had an insignificant effect. Being one of only two states, Washington being the other, which allows undocumented immigrants to obtain a state-issued driver’s license, increases the probability of fraud.” According to the Pew Hispanic Center the illegal immigrant population in New Mexico is between 55,000 and 85,000. To date they have issued over 80,000 licenses. An associated Press investigation last year found a striking pattern in New Mexico of illegal immigrants gaming the system to obtain a license. In one instance 48 illegal immigrants claimed to live at a smoke shop. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas who revealed his illegal immigration status in 2011 chronicled how he obtained his Washington State driver’s license despite providing an address where he did not reside.

 

And of course the counterfeiting of driver’s licenses and other government documents is rampant. The August 2011 issue of DMV reported the arrest of a large counterfeiting ring.

 

“The practice of using fake IDs is constantly evolving and getting more sophisticated. From a

homeland security perspective, this is a threat to not only public safety, but national security. The

illegal operation we shut down was putting dangerous drivers on the road and endangering the

public,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. Funny he had no problem encouraging dangerous drivers to get on the road a few months later.

 

In February 2012, the DMV reported another bust of a document counterfeiting ring. In this case it wasn’t just driver’s licenses but as the DMV said, “large quantities of counterfeit government document manufacturing materials as well as completed government documents and documents in the process of being manufactured”.

 

In February 2012 when the LAPD essentially stopped impounding most cars of unlicensed drivers Chief Beck claimed that the new policy of requiring a validly registered car, a proper ID, valid insurance and no prior convictions would make these drivers more responsible. The policy went into effect in mid-April. So what happened?  In Chief Beck’s interdepartmental correspondence to the Board of Police Commissioners on February 22, 2013 he reported the following:

 

·         Impounds were down 39%

·         Hit and Run collisions were down approximately one percent

·         Total traffic collisions and fatal and severe injury collisions experienced minor increases

 

Note that hit and run collisions were down approximately one percent while total traffic collisions experienced minor collisions. It’s true that hit and runs were down approximately one percent. .087 to be precise. And total traffic collisions did experience a minor increase which was actually 1.02%. But fatalities and severe injury collisions were up 6.8% hardly a minor increase to the additional 75 people severely injured or killed. The chief has been trying to spin away the fact that 43% of collisions in Los Angeles are hit and runs and that illegal immigrants driving in Los Angeles is a major public safety issue.

So why are so many people in this group such reckless and irresponsible drivers? We know from the AAA and DMV statistics that drunk driving is a major problem impacting almost 50% of all fatalities. But why do they speed, run stops signs and red lights at numbers that far exceed licensed drivers? One only has to look at where most of them learned how to drive. The World Health Organization reports that while traffic fatalities have been plummeting in the United States they have been increasing in Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador and most of Central America. Enforcement of driving laws across the region is fair at best and Mexico is rated as poor. Mexico’s road fatalities are 80% higher than the United States per 100,000 drivers and every country in the region is higher than the United States. Measured against the number of vehicles the numbers fly off the charts. While the United States registers 15 deaths per 100,000 vehicles the range in Mexico and Central America is a low of 78 deaths and a high of 249 deaths per 100,000 vehicles. That equates to 500% to 1600% higher.

If the threat of impoundment at a very high financial cost and even deportation did not make these drivers act more carefully and more responsibly why would we think that granting them a driver’s license, no chance of car impoundment and possibly no chance of deportation will change their driving habits.

Let’s assume that immigration reform makes licensing illegal immigrants a moot point but this bill is now law. Do we really want to allow the new crop of illegal immigrants the right to get a driver’s license? And what about those who cannot pass the test or for whatever reason chose not to get a license? Can we really expect San Francisco DA George Gascón who is cracking down on bicycles but refuses to stop unlicensed drivers and has publicly said the If you are here illegally or are poor it’s okay to drive without a license to suddenly start to enforce a law he has ignored for years.. He justifies this absurd statement that it will decrease hit and runs. Well, my son was alive after being hit by Roberto Galo. It was when he tried to flee that he killed him. And how would he know anything about unlicensed drivers, collisions and hit and runs? In my Freedom of Information filing Maureen Conefry responding for the San Francisco Police Department said the following, “I have been advised by our Traffic Company that we do not track traffic collisions involving unlicensed drivers or drivers with suspended or revoked licenses.” And their 2012 collision report lists the last hit and run occurring on February 5. So from Jan 1, 2012 through February 5, 2012 26% of all reported collisions were hit and runs and then there were no more the rest of the year.

And what about Attorney General Kamala Harris who despite her legal responsibility under Article 5 Section 13 of the California Constitution which states, “.  It shall be the duty of the Attorney General to see that the laws of the State are uniformly and adequately enforced refuses to enforce the vehicle code as it relates to unlicensed drivers.Since my son was killed close to 2,000 people have been killed in California by unlicensed drivers and those with suspended and revoked licenses. Her response to Charlie Beck on his new policy…you can do whatever you want.

 

And if you’re going to legitimize all of these bad drivers how about updating our insurance requirements? Our minimum insurance requirements put us at or near the bottom in every category. Kill or injure someone and the minimum benefit puts us third from the bottom of all 50 states and the District of Columbia at $15,000. Cause property damage and we are dead last at $5,000.

 

Even if I supported this bill in principle it has many flaws the least of which is not addressing how those who continue to break the law will be dealt with and how to close the gaping holes in our insurance requirements. I met with Assemblyman Jeff Gorell a little over a month ago to discuss at the time Assemblywoman Brown’s impound bill and this bill and provided him with a letter outlining what should be done. I have copies for you. I am also more than willing to share any and all of my research and all of the Freedom of Information data I have received to date and any I will receive in the future.

 

Finally, every time this legislature and governor, then mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsome, San Francisco George Gascón, then District attorney and now Attorney General Kamala Harris, LAPD Chief Beck and the Los Angeles Police Commission and so many other “public servants” help illegal immigrants drive, more innocent law abiding people die.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Response

  1. Thuc says:

    Well, it’s going to end badly that’s for sure. White people are flatucaly and quickly becoming the minority in white nations (white indigenous or founded nations). Any of the white colonized third world nations, returned to its aboriginal inhabitants have shown the results, Zimbabwe, South Africa, India and Malaysia to name a few. The apparent successes of places like Malaysia and India are surface based and the ongoing result of western intervention, technology, aid, and expertise. I know this first hand by living and working for decades in many of these countries, that’s why people like me are well paid to be there in the first place. Seriously it’s like herding cats when you use any local labor, and nearly ALL companies and industries abroad insist on using white expertise or skilled labor if they can get it, regardless of their own color or nationality. My comments are not racist, they are based on experience, and seeing the world without race blinded glasses on. Eight out of ten people of color living in these places will say the exact same thing, I’ve heard them firsthand. Only in our Liberal apologist, socialist driven western nations, is denial of the truth and twisting of facts a rose colored reality. Of course they are supported whole heartedly by those of color that expect to gain from the bunch of suckers the west has become. You could make the argument that it’s not race but culture that fails all of these nations and immigrants, and that would be a fair argument. Unfortunately the Liberal left encourages even demands that these cultures maintain their cultural identity, to which they are more than happy to oblige. That is why our cities and countries are slowly being divided up into micro third world nations, little by little. Apologies for the lenghty post. I feel that understanding this is fundamental to our nations survival and indeed the worlds future success.

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