Illegal immigrant traffic offenders treated like everyone else

Dear Street Smarts, Q: My question is two parts:
  1. What happens when a police officer pulls over an illegal immigrant driving without a license or insurance?
  2. What happens if that person injures someone while driving without a license or insurance?
What is police policy concerning these unlawful acts? Steve Welch, via email A: Street Smarts polled law enforcement agencies around the county and the message was the same: undocumented immigrants are treated the same as everyone else. If an undocumented immigrant is caught driving without a driver's license or insurance, he or she will be issued a citation and their vehicle will be towed. If the person fails to pay or respond to the citation, a warrant could be issued for their arrest. In regard to causing an injury crash while driving without a license or insurance, again, the person will get a ticket, have their vehicle impounded and be found at fault for the collision if an investigation determined that is true. If the crash and injuries were caused by reckless or impaired driving, the person would be arrested. Officials told Street Smarts that local law enforcement isn't in charge of enforcing immigration law; however, the District Attorney can refer suspects to immigration officials depending on the crime committed. Proposed speed limit change The Santa Cruz City Council Tuesday will discuss raising the speed limit on several street segments around town in an effort to lower the speed drivers are traveling by giving police officers the leverage they need to enforce traffic laws. The street segments that could see their posted speed limits jump from 25 mph to 30 mph are:
  • Bay Street, between California Avenue and West Cliff Drive;
  • North Branciforte Avenue, between Water Street and Fairmount Avenue;
  • Delaware Avenue, between Swift Street and Woodrow;
  • High Street, between Storey Street and the city limit;
  • Isbel Drive, between Bartlett Street and Carbonera Drive;
  • Market Street, between Avalon and Water streets;
  • Morrissey Boulevard, between Pacheco Avenue and Prospect Heights;
  • Natural Bridges Boulevard, between Mission Street and Delaware Avenue;
  • Ocean Street, between Broadway and Water Street; and
  • Western Drive between High and Mission streets.
The council meets at 1:30 p.m. at 809 Center Street in downtown Santa Cruz. The session also is televised on Comcast Community TV, channel 25. View the agenda packet at Legislative walk Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 929, which raises the age youngsters must sit in a child restraint system from 6-years-old and a weight of 60 pounds to age 8 and a height of more than 4 foot 9 inches tall. The new law, submitted by Sen. Noreen Evans of Santa Rosa, brings the state up to par with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommendations. Learn more at and Meanwhile, the governor vetoed Sen. Joe Simitian's law that would have regulated the use of red light cameras. Senate Bill 29 was submitted to address the increasing statewide debate regarding their accuracy, validity and whether they're used to raise revenue.
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