Lately, we have seen a rash of unlicensed drivers involved in accidents. The most recent incident involved a person with 6 DUI convictions and a permanently revoked driver’s license who ran over and killed a little girl out on a walk.
How does this happen? It’s outrageous to be sure. The answer is not so simple.
There is no right to drive in this country -- it is an earned privilege. In order to exercise that privilege legally, a person must possess a valid driver’s license to operate a motor vehicle. Many people lose that privilege, yet continue to drive. Some eventually get caught.
Why are they still driving?
Access to vehicles is easy; it can be as simple as borrowing a car from a friend, spouse or family member. The offender probably does not intend to cause a crash or get caught, but when they do, the punishment is light. A typical sentence for driving with a suspended license is probation and a fine. Excessive occurrences may amount to a few days in jail.
Since the beginning of the year there have been more than 7,000 arrests for driving under suspension in Palm Beach County alone, and very few offenders saw any serious jail time. These crimes are misdemeanors and at their worst, low grade felonies. Jails are overcrowded with violent offenders, so driving defendants are often cut loose. Only when someone is killed by a DUI driver does the system stand up and take notice.
Until the system begins to punish unlicensed drivers with more serious penalties, very little will change. The private civil system is available to victims by way of personal injury and wrongful death suits. Private attorneys can often provide more relief and comfort as well as compensation to victims of these tragedies.
When the criminal system falls short, the private legal community is there to help.
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by manostphoto
Mark Hanson, Esq. is the Director of Litigation at LaBovick Law Group. Mr. Hanson is respected for his aggressive representation in personal injury and admiralty. He was one of only seven attorneys statewide recognized in the Aviation, Admiralty & Maritime category.