LAPD Can’t Hold Impounded Cars Without Good Reason, Appeals Court Rules

U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski, seen in 2015, wrote that the government must offer proper justification for impounding a vehicle. (Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles police may not hold impounded cars for 30 days without justification, a federal appeals court decided Wednesday.

In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals revived a class-action lawsuit against the police for holding vehicles for 30 days.

The court said impounding a vehicle must be justified under the 4th Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches and seizures.

“A seizure is justified under the Fourth Amendment only to the extent that the government’s justification holds force,” Judge Alex Kozinski wrote for the panel. “Thereafter, the government must cease the seizure or secure a new justification.”

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