Six Months in Jail for Napping in Car

It seems that there's been a rash of crimes committed in Rancho Santa Margarita by people while they are asleep, and there is no sleepwalking involved. How, you might ask? Just by the simple, abhorrent act of sleeping. In their car.

It's true, this nighttime menace, already banned in cities such as Lake Forest, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo Tustin, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente Laguna Niguel, Costa Mesa and Irvine, has now stretched to Rancho Santa Margarita. Chief of Police Lt. Brian Schmutz told the city council that his department responded to over 300 calls last year for people sleeping in their cars on city property.

The ordinance, passed 4-1 yesterday, states that anyone found sleeping in their vehicle on city property between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. could face a fine of $1,000 or six months in jail. The ordinance, according to Schmutz, would be used as a tool to enforce neighborhood safety. In the ordinance's defense, Schmutz cited the case of a man found sleeping in his car near a school zone, arrested for possession of a firearm. Officers also found police insignia and handcuffs in the man's possession. What is not clear is why the man's location near a school zone was so important-surely the children are at school during the day? Did they suspect him of lying in wait until the morning school run?

Thankfully the ordinance will go to a second reading on March 14th to allow more input from the public. Councilman Jesse Petrilla announced that he was not in favor of the law, citing, as others have, safety of the drivers-tired drivers, for instance. He mentioned that the 241 Toll Road carries many long distance travelers, and if they stop to nap in their cars instead of renting a hotel room for a couple of hours, a $1,000 fine or 6 months in jail going to help anyone? And aren't our jails already overcrowded with real criminals?

How do you feel about this ordinance adopted by most of Orange County cities? Do you feel that tired drivers should be penalized? Is this giving the police too much power to search drivers without cause? Is this a violation of our civil rights? Or are you tired of seeing strange cars in your neighborhood, and are happy that police have a way to deal with them? Please add your replies in our comments section.

At the Law Offices of Glew & Kim, we see all clients as innocent until proven guilty, and believe in equal justice for all. If you or someone you know has been involved in a crime and needs honest, unbiased defense, please call us immediately on 866-416-2161 or use our online form for a free case analysis.

*This is not an attorney-client communication, and as such no advice is being offered in this article. Any and all communications related to the Glew & Kim website and the MarijuanaLawyer.com website should be deemed and considered advertisement. This article is purely opinion, and the basis of this and any opinion was formed subject to the reporting by the actual news agencies, the information from with was used as source material.

This is not an attorney-client communication, and as such no advice is being offered in this article. Any and all communications related to the Glew & Kim Law website and MarijuanaLawyer.com website should be deemed and considered advertisement. This article is purely opinion, and the basis of this and any opinion was formed subject to the reporting by the actual news agencies, the information from which was used as source material.

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