Scottsdale and Mesa police expect the number of vehicles impounded to rise dramatically thanks to a recently enacted Arizona law.
Scottsdale officials predict fines related to vehicle impounds will bring the city an extra $500,000 a year in revenue, and that the increase in seizures could necessitate creating two new staff positions.
Mesa police say they’ve already begun to see a significant increase in impounds, with 116 vehicles seized in the first eight days of November, said Diana Tapia, Mesa Police Department spokeswoman.
“They are attributing the increase to the new law,” Tapia said.
Police already impound for 30 days vehicles of people found driving without a license or whose license has been suspended or revoked for a number of reasons.
HB2753, which took effect Sept. 19, expands those criteria to apply to all drivers found to have suspended licenses, said Mark Clark, Scottsdale Police Department spokesman.
“Police can do a 30-day impound for any suspended license,” Clark said. “It’s casting a broader net. It’s a big change.”
The number of vehicles impounded in Scottsdale is expected to rise from 1,600 this fiscal year to 3,800 next fiscal year, police estimate.
Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, the law’s initial sponsor, said it is intended to target people who have already been convicted of violations and had their licenses suspended or revoked.
“You’ve had your day in court. It’s already been determined that you shouldn’t be on the road,” Pearce said. “What we’ve found is by taking away your vehicle, we’re not only putting you in jail, we’re putting your car in jail.”
On Tuesday, the Scottsdale City Council approved collection of a $150 administrative fee the police department can charge to recoup its expenses from dealing with vehicle impounds. It’s the maximum amount allowed by state law, and could mean more than $500,000 in revenue for the department.
Clark said that money would support the vehicle impound program. The department plans to monitor effects of the new law for a year, but eventually could recommend hiring for a new records position and a new hearing officer to determine if someone who has had their vehicle impounded has met the requirements to have it released, he said.
Mesa also collects a $150 fine per impound, and expects to see rising revenue corresponding to the increasing volume of impounded vehicles, Tapia said.
Mesa officials don’t have any immediate plans to hire new staff, she said. “We will evaluate that on an as-needed basis,” she said.