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Towed car case costs city $15,000

Original post made on May 11, 2011

A police traffic stop that left two women and four children on the side of the road, spurring the city to revise its towing policies, has led to an out of court settlement of $15,000.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, May 11, 2011, 4:55 PM

Comments (40)

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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 11, 2011 at 5:50 pm

USA is a registered user.

I don't know where to begin with this one.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 11, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Holy smoke!

Based on those totals, does this mean those fees translate to about 1,114 towed cars driven by unlicensed drivers in fiscal yaer 2009-2010 and 591 since July 210?

Mountain View is getting more dangerous by the day!


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Posted by ken
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 11, 2011 at 7:04 pm

please come tow my car, so I too can get some money.


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Posted by Rich Soleros
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 11, 2011 at 7:48 pm

This is an atrocity that must be stopped immediately, that of the Mountain View PD allowing unlicensed drivers to continue to operate their motor vehicle after being found to be unlicensed. This is a public at large endangerment, directly contributed by the Mountain View PD. The fact is, fully 20% of all highway fataites within the state of California involve an unlicensed driver. These criminals are killing people of this state at a staggering rate. And they do not care, they continually flaunt our laws, laws that have been placed on the books to protect us. This fact can be checked out by reading Unlicensed To Kill, a national study put out by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Why is this study not quoted in this story? Why is the carnage being caused by unlicensed drivers not explained in this story? Why does the Mountain View Voice appear to have an agenda, instead of factual news reporting in a fair and balanced manner? Why are innocent people going to be killed needlessly by the continued lack of enforcement of the Safe Streets Act of 1994, which MANDATES a 30 day impoundment of an unlicensed drivers vehicle as a punishment to the offending person, and as a protection for the public at large? To save the innocent life of a child or loved one, IMNPOUND THESE CRIMINALS VEHICLES as the law mandates. Do it now, the life saved may be someone you love, or your own.


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Posted by Wrench Monkey
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on May 11, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Let me get this straight. You get to keep your car if you are unlicensed, that is, you potentially may have never gotten a license, but you get your car towed if your license has been revoked or suspended! Man, I'm trying real hard to bend my mind around that one. At least the person with the revoked or suspended license at one time took a driver's test. How would the later fit into the community caretaker doctrine in terms of people who at least have been tested to be competent enough to pass a driver's test at one time or another?

Oh wait, I get it. Only legal citizens would be more likely to drive with a revoked or suspended license while mainly illegal drivers would find themselves in the category of driving without a license altogether which allows them to not have their car impounded. Brilliant!

But this person had two lights out and an altered exhaust. That would imply that the smog certificate was no longer valid. So would not that have been grounds enough for impounding the care and citing the registered owner?


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Posted by FRED
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 11, 2011 at 9:04 pm

JUST ONE QUESTION.. DOES THE DURANGO HAVE THE CAPACITY TO HOLD 7 PASSENGERS INCLUDING AN INFANT IN A CAR SEAT. AT LEAST I HOPE IN A CAR SEAT. EVERYTHING ELSE SEEMED TO BE ILLEGAL.


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Posted by HoleInTheHead
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 11, 2011 at 9:37 pm

I hear Mountain View's public school is the envy of the world.


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 11, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Emotional distress. I wish the city showed some backbone to stand by their police officers....Does this mean my 3 year old can drive a car as long as I am there in the passenger seat. I would have towed the car too and then told Guadulupe she was part of the crime. Isn't that a violation of her insurance and registration agreement to let an unlicensed driver take the wheel of your car...there are a lot better places to stick 15K then in some lawyer and his criminal client's wallet..... just watch as Guadulupe and Adrian drive around in their new Dodge Durango and cause an accident....then the city can pay millions to the poor victims who got hit by this unlicensed driver.


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Posted by BD
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 12, 2011 at 5:54 am

"Saldana showed her license and registration to officers to prove that the car belonged to her and that she could drive it home."

The police towed the woman's car, even though she, a licensed driver, was in the passenger seat? That is ridiculous!

Of course the unlicensed driver should be prosecuted for driving without a license, and she needs to stop letting him borrow the car. But I'm glad to hear the police are revising their policies on this one.


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Posted by Jan
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 12, 2011 at 8:32 am

I stand behind the police action... the license drive should drive and if the person make an inappropriate decision to let an unlicensed driver drive...the licensed driver should also incur the the penalty of that decision. The are way too many unlicensed drivers We are protecting the criminals and not the general public.


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Posted by Andrei
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 12, 2011 at 8:33 am

This is a joke! I am so saddened to see the PD not stand up to this. Whether or not she had a license, she CHOOSE to let an unlicensed driver with a warrant for the same offense drive her and her family around. She should not have gotten a penny and should have been investigated for child endangerment! Just another example of scumbag attorneys playing the race cars in order to bilk funds from a municipality and bypass actually having to follow the laws that the rest of us must live up to!!


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Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 12, 2011 at 8:35 am

Agreed, the fact that the registered owner of the vehicle was present and offering to drive the car home eliminates the danger to the public roadways, and negates the need to impound the vehicle. Fine them for the violation, arrest the unlicensed driver if required, but impounding the vehicle doesn't seem to serve any purpose in this case.

Also, let's consider the danger to the stranded family with young children in tow.

$250,000 lawsuit seems excessive, but Mountain View was fortunate to be able to take care of this with an out-of-court $15K settlement. Can you imagine what the $'s would have looked like if this happened in San Francisco?


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Posted by Leny
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 12, 2011 at 8:38 am

I'm concerned that unlicensed drivers also have no car insurance coverage...If someone gets hit/injured by an unlicensed/uninsured driver, the injured will most likely have to pay...from what I have observed, unlicensed drivers are most often illegal aliens, and would be deported after an accident, leaving the injured with no recourse.


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Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 12, 2011 at 8:49 am

Most of the concerns voiced here regarding unlicensed drivers are valid, but don't justify impounding the vehicle.

Take a look at the plaintiff's assertion here: she is not protesting the damages related to having an unlicensed driver operating the vehicle or the unlawful modifications to the exhaust system, just the fact that the impound was illegal and violated her rights. There is no causal link between having an unlicensed driver, and impounding the vehicle, especially when the legal, licensed owner of the vehicle is present and offering to drive the car home.

PR wise, it looks pretty heartless to strand a family with 4 kids on the roadside.


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Posted by Andrei
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 12, 2011 at 9:21 am

Hardin,

I completely disagree with you. While it may seem heartless to strand her and her family on the side of the road, one must look at the facts. Pulling his license, citing him again and having a warrant out for another license violation did not discourage her from putting him behind the wheel with her family in the car. The statement that she is willing to accept the damages tells me she really is not, otherwise she would be okay with the towing, being that the habitual driving on a suspended license with no regard for the law. I agree it's not the kids fault that the parents are irresponsible, but that should not be an excuse to endanger others and blatantly and knowingly disregard the law!!


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Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 12, 2011 at 9:47 am

Impounding the vehicle is justified if there were no other licensed drivers at the time to drive the car. In this case, the legal and licensed owner of the car was present and offering to drive the car home.

The fact that the owner has a history of letting unlicensed drivers operate her vehicle may be viable case in court for further prosecution, but it does not justify preventing her from driving her own car home at the time.

The police can arrest and/or fine individuals caught in the action of violating the law. What you are implying is that the police should impound the vehicle to PREVENT her from letting unlicensed drivers operate her vehicle IN THE FUTURE, since she shows a historical pattern of allowing this.

Fortunately, we don't live in a world like Tom Cruise did in "Minority Report", where conviction and punishment of crimes is determined by what we "think" will happen in the future. That's a benefit we all enjoy.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 12, 2011 at 9:56 am

"Impounding the vehicle is justified if there were no other licensed drivers at the time to drive the car."

An interesting story. This unique case aside, do you then agree that the current MVPD policy, to not impound cars of unlicensed drivers, is flawed?

What latitude do you give to the statement "if there were no other licensed drivers at the time." How long should officer have to wait for a legal driver to show up. What about car insurance and registration? Should those be in order as well? This car had several lights not working and a modified exhaust. At this point I would begin to guess that the tire perhaps were balding and maybe the brakes bad. Would it have been a safe vehicle to transport children?


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Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 12, 2011 at 10:34 am

You're postulating "what if's", which may or may not be relevant to the discussion at hand.

However, regarding whether or not current MVPD policy is flawed, I'd say its incomplete, due to the fact that the City is drafting new policy and implementing new training to deal with the nuances that may occur in these cases. For now, the City is erring on the side of caution to limit its legal liability from future lawsuits, which is a good idea considering the money that can be lost in such cases.

And before anyone cries that implementing this policy exposes the public to the dangers of unlicensed drivers, let's remember that there are other ways of preventing use of a vehicle temporarily, other than impounding them (Parked to side, booting, etc). Note too, that the new policy applies only to those drivers that are unlicensed, not to those that have revoked or suspended licenses, who can still have their cars impounded.


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 12, 2011 at 11:12 am

Looks like Mountain View is changing their policies to allow illegals to do more illegal things.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 12, 2011 at 11:37 am

"Herrera was booked in county jail for a $5,000 warrant from a previous unlicensed driving violation"

If the repeat-offending unlicensed driver was in custody, then there was zero chance of him driving unlicensed, right? Therefore no need to impound the car for that reason.

However, impounding the car for the modified exhaust may have been appropriate.

Checking to see if the occupants of the car have the legal right to be in the United States would also be appropriate - but we don't do that. Instead, we let them go and give them $15k spending money.


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Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 12, 2011 at 11:44 am

Hmmmm...

so we've gone from calling them "unlicensed" to calling them "illegals".....

Sort of like calling people of Middle Eastern descent "Arabs" to then calling them "Terrorists"....


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Posted by Wake up folks!
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 12, 2011 at 1:44 pm

NO SURPRISE! It's another example of Mtn. View being a de-facto sanctuary city.

Hey Hardin, "Adrian Herrera, an unlicensed driver who had been arrested several times for driving without a license." Why doesn't Herrera get a license? Because most likely Herrera is illegally in the US? Why doesn't MVPD submit Herrera's name to ICE?

BTW, who flew the jet planes into the twin towers? Oh ya, Arabs/TERRORISTS!


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Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 12, 2011 at 2:53 pm

And in the same vein:

1. Japanese Americans are traitorous.

2. Jews are cheap.

3. African Americans are good in basketball and love rap music.

4. White men can't jump.

Did I miss anything?


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 12, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Wow, bit of a bad patch for the MVPD! Since this happened in June, are any details of Herrera's sentence available? was he here illegally? And if so why wasn't he deported after the first incident?
A little more info, please.


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Posted by James
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 12, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I'd like to shake Hardin's hand....thank you.
My wife (an historian) likes to sum this sort of thing up by pointing out that we are living in very mean times. Kindness and rationality are not easy thing to find. Reminds me a bit about the condition of Germany in the 30's and 40's, when the police didn't have to seek out "wrongdoers" since they were all being reported to them by neighbors and others firmly wrapped in righteousness.


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Posted by vkmo
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 12, 2011 at 3:17 pm

If they were illegal aliens, they should have been reported to immigration for deportation.


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Posted by Duh
a resident of Whisman Station
on May 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm

California Vehicle Code Section:

14604. (a) No owner of a motor vehicle may knowingly allow another
person to drive the vehicle upon a highway unless the owner
determines that the person possesses a valid driver's license that
authorizes the person to operate the vehicle. For the purposes of
this section, an owner is required only to make a reasonable effort
or inquiry to determine whether the prospective driver possesses a
valid driver's license before allowing him or her to operate the
owner's vehicle. An owner is not required to inquire of the
department whether the prospective driver possesses a valid driver's
license.


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Posted by trevor
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 13, 2011 at 1:01 am

I don't care about car violation. The point is:

If they were illegal aliens, they should have been reported to immigration for deportation.


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Posted by JW
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 13, 2011 at 7:19 am

$250,000?! Good grief; we're likely already paying for health care for her entire family and education for all her kids! Hey, here's $15K more to spend on more illegal vehicle alterations and radar detectors. Go home. Why does mountain view always llol away from these people?


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Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 13, 2011 at 8:40 am

I happen to think that the singular evil of our time is prejudice. It is from this evil that all other evils grow and multiply. In almost everything I've written there is a thread of this: a man's seemingly palpable need to dislike someone other than himself.

ROD SERLING
------------------------

Passion and prejudice govern the world; only under the name of reason.

JOHN WESLEY
------------------------

At any given moment, public opinion is a chaos of superstition, misinformation, and prejudice.

GORE VIDAL


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 13, 2011 at 9:47 am

More like:

See no evil.

Hear no evil.

Speak no evil.

ANONYMOUS

The singular evil in Mountain View is that neither the Police, City, or press will give specifics in any case for the public to form a rationale opinion on anything. The result is you get all sorts of conjecture. All three deliberately under report specific details on matters of public record in most cases.

Say it ain't so. How can anybody form any opinion based on the facts presented in this article And it doesn't take a historian to answer that question.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 13, 2011 at 9:51 am

And James, it was the police who pulled these people over, not "neighbors and others firmly wrapped in righteousness." It's quite a leap you are making.

Comparing people to Nazis in this case is almost as bad as being one.


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Posted by duh huh
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 13, 2011 at 11:11 am

Write the person a ticket, Not violate the 4th amendment
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The city is lucky is got away for $15K


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Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 13, 2011 at 11:49 am

"The singular evil in Mountain View is that neither the Police, City, or press will give specifics in any case for the public to form a rationale opinion on anything. The result is you get all sorts of conjecture. All three deliberately under report specific details on matters of public record in most cases."

-------------

I disagree.

The article provides the facts that were necessary for reporting the issue at hand, why the City paid $15,000 for towing a car. Facts as noted in the article:

1. Police stopped a vehicle and found a tail light and brake light out, had illegal modifications to the exhaust system, and that the driver was unlicensed.

2. Driver was arrested and put in jail.

3. The car was impounded, even though the licensed, registered owner of the vehicle was present and offered to drive the car home.

4. The driver sued the City, claiming violation of her 4th amendment rights when her car was impounded.

5. The City reviewed the existing statues and laws and made the decision to temporarily stopped impounding cars if the sole indiscretion is an unlicensed driver.

5. The City settled out of court with the plaintiff for $15,000, instead of pursuing the case worth potentially $350,000 in liabilities to the City.

End of story.

That's all that's needed to report the story. Where the "singular evil" starts is when people start to infer and conjecture around the stated facts in an effort to conform the facts to support personal prejudices and bias.

Its really not relevant to the story at hand whether the unlicensed driver is an illegal immigrant or not.

It isn't relevant what the plaintiff was planning on spending her potential $350,000 award on.

It isn't relevant that her extended family may benefit from it.

So if you're disappointed that the City, the press, and/or the police don't give you enough dirt to gossip about, I don't see that as being a defensible position. Its not up to them to give you anything to support an opinion, you are responsible for doing that with the facts on hand and hopefully with the morals your parents taught you.

Or to put it more succinctly, other than what's in the article, its none of your business.

-----------------------

Judge me all you want, just keep the verdict to yourself. ~From a Winston advertisement


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Hardin:

You're the one thrashing the bushes for prejudice, racists and illegals. If you look back at MY posts, I make no mention of any of all that! Try not to be so trigger happy.


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Posted by John
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Wow - Mountain View seems very racist. No wonder crime is bad there - people don't respect each other.


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Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 13, 2011 at 2:26 pm

"Hardin:

You're the one thrashing the bushes for prejudice, racists and illegals. If you look back at MY posts, I make no mention of any of all that! Try not to be so trigger happy."

------------------------

"It wasn't me!!!", cried the kettle to the pot....



------------------------
I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally.

W.C. FIELDS


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Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 13, 2011 at 2:47 pm

All joking aside, my previous post was not aimed solely at you, Observer, but to numerous other posters as well that are inferring way too much considering what has been made public as fact so far.

However, in your case, what other information do you need to help you make a rational opinion on this news article? What additional facts are needed to tell this story better? And where do we draw the line in satisfying the hunger of opinion, without violating ones right to privacy?

Where does healthy curiosity end, and voyeurism begin?


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Posted by Noting...
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 13, 2011 at 3:11 pm

This is admittedly an aside, but it seems interesting that none of the previous comments wondered if the woman's husband gave her no opportunity or choice re: who drove the car or modified the exhaust.

Unfortunately, many women do not have the option to say "no" to a strongly willed husband or boyfriend, even in this day and age.


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Posted by Mr. Big
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 15, 2011 at 1:33 am

There are no good guys on this one except the kids...

The driver deserved to be arrested and the owner of the vehicle should have been allowed to drive the car (especially with all the kids) with a warning that it would be impounded if she let the knucklehead drive it again.

And, the MVPD and other PD love to tow cars excessively. I'm glad the city is going to change the policy. Police should not be "revenuers", they should be fighting, preventing and investigating real crime.

They'll spend time pulling over someone with a busted tail light, but they won't respond to a traffic accident unless someone is hurt. Why? The city doesn't make any money off of traffic accidents.


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