Scofflaw drivers will pay more for their offenses starting next month, following City Council approval Tuesday of a plan to increase auto impound fees from $7 to $44.
Police Chief Manuel Ortega said that for each of the estimated 60 cars per month impounded in the city, a police officer spends 45 minutes processing paperwork and waiting for the tow truck to remove the car.
Previously, cities could recover only the cost of releasing impounded cars to their owners.
But a recent change in the state Vehicle Code lets them recover costs for the time employees spend impounding vehicles as well.
In Placentia, that means charging $25.83 for 45 minutes of a patrol officer's time at $34.46 per hour; $12.77 for 15 minutes of a watch commander's time to review and release paperwork, at $51.09 per hour; and $5.26 for 15 minutes of a dispatcher's time, at $21.03 per hour, to run a vehicle check with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Rounded off, the costs come to $44 per car. That is expected to net the city $31,680 a year.
Ortega noted that although it is a fee increase, it is one that law-abiding citizens will not have to pay.
Accident victims are not charged if their cars are impounded.
Those who will pay are drivers who have let their auto registration lapse for a year or more and those who are driving without licenses or with suspended licenses.