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Calif. Vehicle Seizure Law Stands

October 19, 2000

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ The state Supreme Court has declined to review a ruling allowing police to seize vehicles suspected of use in crimes such as drug dealing or soliciting a prostitute.

Without comment, a majority of justices Wednesday decided not to hear the American Civil Liberties Union’s challenge to Oakland’s 1997 vehicle seizure law.

Under the law, a car can be confiscated even if the crime suspect using the vehicle is acquitted, or the car’s owner was unaware of the crime. The measure exceeds state and federal standards.

The ACLU argued that cities looking to profit from seizures would enact similar measures.

So far, Sacramento has put a comparable law on its books but San Francisco lawmakers shelved the idea last month, concluding it was unconstitutional.

Since passing the ``nuisance abatement″ act, Oakland has collected, sold and kept the profits from 300 cars.

The impetus ``was really complaints from certain communities which were essentially drive-thru sex-and-drug bazaars. People were sick of having lines of cars in their streets with this activity going on,″ said Oakland Deputy City Attorney Pelayo Llamas.

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