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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Unlicensed drivers pose a threat to all

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

There's a problem in this country with drivers who continue to drive despite suspended or revoked licenses. The problem is that these offenders often get a slap on the hand but repeat their driving violation. Since their crime is not one of violence, jail time is rare.

But a new study out of Kansas City shows why this should change. In that city alone, a third of those involved in fatal accidents were improperly licensed. Statewide, 14 percent of Missourians with driver's licenses are currently under suspension or revocation. But these drivers still cause a disproportionate amount of the mishaps on the roadways. In other words, we have to find a way to keep suspended and revoked drivers from getting behind the wheel.

Members of the judicial system say they are at a loss. There are not enough jail cells to hold the suspended or revoked drivers because they are currently occupied by other criminals on drug or violent crime offenses. So the motorists who are driving suspended or revoked are, more often than not, given a suspended sentence, fined and sent on their way. And records show that more often than not, they continue to drive. These are also often the uninsured motorists.

Judges are also reluctant to give jail time for these offenders because they need to drive to maintain a job or to care for children. So the "threat" of real jail time is actually minimal.

In the great scheme of things, perhaps someone driving on a suspended license is not the worst crime possible. But when you combine the number of mishaps involving these motorists, the problem increases. And police all too often have more pressing matters.

I lack a solution. All I truly know is that the numbers should be sobering. When you consider that a huge percentage of the drivers beside you on the highway are driving with a suspended or revoked license, that is cause for concern. As a society and out of an honest concern for safety, perhaps we should focus a bit more attention in this direction to safeguard those who abide by the law.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen