Late last weekend the LA City Council made a bold move.
They announced a city wide ban of vehicles capable of reaching speeds over 10 miles an hour.
State law mandates that all vehicles must not be driven in excess of 55 miles per hour… far less in specific areas where excessive speed might result in injury or death to the driver or to innocent bystanders.
Effective immediately vehicles that are capable of traveling more then 10 miles an hour will be confiscated, and the owner cited with a misdemeanor possession charge.
LA follows the city of Sunnyvale in seeking to protect it’s residents from the dangers of vehicles equipped with excessive speed.
In 2008 the City Council of Sunnyvale discovered a loophole in the California Motor Vehicle Code. While State law prohibits the operation of a vehicle above 55 miles an hour, manufacturers are not prohibited from selling vehicles capable of reaching speeds far in excess of the speed limit.
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Sunnyvale, seeking to protect its citizens from those that are not properly trained, or the mentally ill, sought to create a balanced approach in protecting the desires of those that felt they needed to own vehicles, with those that wanted to be protected from those that would use their vehicles in a reckless or malicious fashion.
Their solution was a progressive law that would still recognize legal vehicle ownership, while at the same time protecting the population at large by limiting the speed available to 10 miles an hour.
As was expected special interest groups, led by “Big Auto” sued. The case made its way to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Leadfoot v. City of Sunnyvale.
The 9th Circuit sided with the city council.
They found that while the Constitution does confer a fundamental right to free travel, it does not grant a specific right to automobile ownership. More specifically, there is no inherent right to a vehicle capable of excessive speed.
With the law settled, the LA city council decided to take action.
Anyone found in the city of Los Angeles with a vehicle capable of achieving speeds in excess of 10 miles per hour will have their vehicle confiscated and will face of fine of $1000 and no more than one year in jail.
This is not just a law for LA residents. It applies to anyone found in the City of Los Angeles with a vehicle capable of excessive speed.
Councilwoman Cindy Crow-Lipshitz stated, “We have an epidemic, not just in the city of angels, but across this country. Last year over 32,000 people died as a direct result of vehicle speed. No one needs to go fast, and often times these dangerous death traps find their way into the hands of criminals and the unstable. Others are just simply not trained enough to use them properly. With this new law we finally take a common sense step in protecting our streets and keeping our children safe.”
Predictably, car owners responded to the laws passage with indignation.
One car owner who wished to have his name withheld, responded “Who the hell do they think they are? It’s not the car that’s the problem, it’s the person behind the wheel. I drive my car responsibly and have never had an accident… heck I’ve never even had a speeding ticket, why should I have my car taken from me and be forced into a vehicle that I don’t want?”
It would appear that the feelings of the car owner do not reflect the feelings of a majority of voters though. Most of the people polled while waiting for city busses responded that they thought this was a good idea.
One passenger, Jordan Thomas stated, “It’s about time. I have never understood what those car nuts were arguing for. I have never had the need for a car. I frankly prefer to leave driving to the professionals like bus drivers and taxi cab drivers. I just don’t feel comfortable driving, and when I see someone driving a muscle car or something like that it makes me nervous.”
The new law does specifically exempt both on duty and off duty law enforcement personnel.
it is not clear if the new law will be copied by other city councils.