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House committee approves bill allowing law enforcement to tow a vehicle if driver has no license

Closeup of broken down car being towed onto flatbed tow truck with cable for repair at workshop garage

Wednesday, the Alabama House Public Safety Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that gives officers the power to have a vehicle towed if the driver does not have a valid driver’s license.

House Bill 34 is sponsored by State Representative Scott Stadthagen, R-Hartselle.

Stadthagen said that under current Alabama law the law enforcement officer can simply issue a citation for failure to have a license during a traffic stop. This bill would give the officer the option of having the vehicle towed if in their judgement the motorist presents a threat to public safety.

Stadthagen said that his bill is supported by the Sheriff of Morgan County, who was there to speak in support of the bill if needed.

According to the synopsis, “Under existing law, a person whose license has been revoked or suspended for certain offenses and who subsequently operates a motor vehicle is subject to removal from the vehicle, and the vehicle may be impounded by law enforcement. This bill would provide for the removal of a person operating a motor vehicle and for the impoundment of the vehicle if the person has failed to procure a driver’s license as required by existing law. Amendment 621 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 111.05 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, prohibits a general law whose purpose or effect would be to require a new or increased expenditure of local funds from becoming effective with regard to a local governmental entity without enactment by a 2/3 vote unless: it comes within one of a number of specified exceptions; it is approved by the affected entity; or the Legislature appropriates funds, or provides a local source of revenue, to the entity for the purpose. The purpose or effect of this bill would be to require a new or increased expenditure of local funds within the meaning of the amendment. However, the bill does not require approval of a local 8 governmental entity or enactment by a 2/3 vote to 9 become effective because it comes within one of the specified exceptions contained in the amendment.”

State Rep. Pettus Phillip, R-Killen, motioned for the bill to get a favorable report. The committee approve the bill unanimously.

HB34 can now be considered by the full House of Representatives.

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Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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