VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 24   |   JUNE 15 – 21, 2011


Illegal alien turned over to ICE, truck impounded

CAVE CREEK – On June 9, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputies pulled Jose Refugio Govea-Calderon over for a traffic violation in front of the Buffalo Chip Saloon.

Deputies soon learned Govea-Calderon had no valid driver license and was a Mexican national illegally present in this country.

Govea-Calderon was taken into custody and turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement while MCSO had his truck impounded.

According to A.R.S. § 28-3511, a peace officer “shall cause the removal and either immobilization or impoundment of a vehicle” if the peace officer determines the person has not ever been issued a valid driver license or permit by the state and cannot produce evidence of ever having a valid license or permit issued by another jurisdiction,” as was the case with Govea-Calderon.

Statute requires the vehicle to be impounded for 30 days, except in certain situations.

However, in order to have his vehicle released, Govea-Calderon, who is the registered owner of the truck, would have to provide proof he has a valid driver license, proof of current registration and insurance.

While storage fees may vary by contractual arrangements between towing companies and law enforcement agencies, the maximum allowed charge for storage is $15 per day, even for days after the initial 30-day impound.

The fees to the law enforcement agency for the documentation required to release the vehicle plus the impound fees for 30 days of storage can be cost as much as $700.

Meanwhile, Govea-Calderon, 28, has been driving around the valley since at least December 2005, where he’s been repeatedly cited for traffic offenses and driving without a valid license.

He was cited for a local charge and no valid license on Dec. 27, 2005 in Maricopa. He pled guilty to both charges in January 2006 and signed up to make time payments.

Govea-Calderon was cited in Phoenix for driving without a license in November 2006 and paid a fine.

He was stopped again in Goodyear on April 28, 2008 and was cited for a stop sign violation, no valid license, no rear license plate, failure to produce evidence of financial responsibility and failure to wear a seat belt.

He pled guilty to all the charges and paid a fine.

In November 2009, Govea-Calderon was cited again in Phoenix for no valid license and for failure to show a driver license or ID. Once again, he pled guilty and had some sort of sentence imposed.

However, it appears his recent stop in Cave Creek may have been the first time his vehicle has been impounded.

Time will tell if that’s what it will take to make an impression and remove unlicensed drivers from our roads.

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