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Let the seizing of cars begin
Athens police will now enforce impound ordinance

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — Drivers in Athens had better check their wallets or purses or glove compartments to make sure they have driver licenses with them.

At midnight on Thursday, police began enforcing a new ordinance that requires officers to impound a vehicle if the driver has no license or is driving while that license is suspended or revoked.

The City Council approved the ordinance in June.

At that meeting, Chief Wayne Harper commended city leaders because, he said, the number of people driving without a license in Athens has kept increasing the past five years. He said he is seeing more arrests for driving under the influence in which the suspect doesn't have a license or is driving with a suspended license.

"If they don't have a driver license, they probably don't have insurance because you can't get insurance without a license," Harper told the council. "Every year it gets worse as the city gets bigger."

If you get caught without a license, the officer will make every effort to verify that you do possess one. There are other exceptions to the impound requirement, such as a medical emergency.

If an officer does impound your vehicle, you have three options to reclaim it. The options are:

n Come to the Police Department at 951 E. Hobbs St. with a current driver license and proof of insurance.

n Get another driver with a current license and proof of insurance to accompany you to get the vehicle.

n Provide a licensed driver with a notarized statement authorizing release of the vehicle to that driver. The driver must have proof of insurance.

With the last two options, you must be present at the wrecker company to take possession of the vehicle.

Owners who go to the wrecker company without a licensed driver cannot obtain their vehicles. The owner must pay the wrecker company any tow charges plus a $25 administrative fee charged by the city.

Decatur, too?

Decatur officials are proposing their own vehicle impoundment law.

It would allow towing and impounding if the driver lacks either a proper license or proof of liability insurance.

Mayor Don Kyle and District 3 City Councilman Gary Hammon say they hope to present the ordinance to the full council this fall.

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