As a criminal appellate lawyer who probably spends too much time with his head buried in statutes and case law, I was surprised to read Nov. 18 that the Fresno Police Department has undercover officers in the local courts who follow convicted drunken drivers to their cars and then arrest them for driving with a suspended license. A strong argument can be made that what these officers have been doing is illegal.
Vehicle Code section 12801.5, subdivision (e), states that "notwithstanding section 40300 or any other provision of law, a peace officer may not detain or arrest a person solely on the belief that the person is an unlicensed driver, unless the officer has a reasonable cause to believe the person driving is under the age of 16 years."
As a taxpayer, my concern is that one of my civil colleagues could launch an expensive class-action lawsuit and that these detentions and arrests could actually cost the taxpayers money instead of keeping the roads safe and generating revenue in the form of fines.
Robert L.S. Angres
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