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LAPD Chief Charlie Beck: Give Driver's Licenses To Illegal Immigrants

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck says the state of California should issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

The licenses don't have to be identical to those issued to citizens and can be a provisional license or a nonresident license, Beck told a group of Los Angeles Times' reporters and editorial writers.

"The reality is that all the things that we've done – 'we' being the state of California – over the last 14, 16 years have not reduced the problem on iota, haven't reduced undocumented aliens driving without licenses. So we have to look at what we're doing," Beck told the group. "When something doesn't work over and over and over again, my view is that you should reexamine it to see if there is another way that makes more sense."

Beck believes issuing licenses to illegal immigrants would improve safety on California roads and would, for example, reduce the number of hit-and-run accidents because illegal immigrant drivers would not have fear being caught without a license at accidents, according to the Times.

Beck has in recent months pushed to make a controversial change to the LAPD's vehicle impound rules for unlicensed drivers. The policy now calls for the car of an unlicensed driver to be impounded, but Beck wants unlicensed drivers with a clean record to be able to call another driver with a license, who would then be allowed to drive the car away.

The impound policy as it currently stands and the resulting fees and fines are an unfair burden on illegal immigrants, Beck has said.

The proposed policy change has been under increasing fire in the wake of at least two fatal accidents involving unlicensed drivers.

In February, three women died after the sport utility vehicle they were in slammed into a tree in South LA. The driver, Tenina M. Calhoun of Moreno Valley, was cited just a month prior by the California Highway Patrol for driving without a license, but her vehicle was not impounded.

Another woman was killed last month in a hit-and-run crash in Boyle Heights. Police said the driver, who had a warrant out for his arrest, was unlicensed.

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