Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Would you drive without a license?

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Greg Peck
February 13, 2014

Perhaps you read the story in Wednesday's Gazette. Gannett Wisconsin Media reported that, last year, more than 74,000 people were convicted in Wisconsin of driving with suspended licenses and 14,000 were convicted of driving with revoked licenses.

That's almost 90,000 people. If that's the number of those convicted, imagine how many are really out there that you're at risk of running into.

I know a guy who once did this when he was young and immature. He'd been busted for drunken driving, but that didn't stop him from getting behind the wheel. He gambled that no law officer would again pull him over before he got his license back, and as far as I know, he won that bet.

A town of Menasha police spokesman told Gannett reporter Andy Thompson that people are only caught for driving without licenses if they're involved in crashes or commit traffic violations. Licenses are suspended for various reasons, including failure to pay fines, drunken-driving convictions and driving with canceled insurance.

Driving with a suspended license isn't a criminal offense but could cost you $124. Driving after license revocation—more likely with habitual offenders—can lead to jail time and fines up to $2,500.

I'm sure some people with suspended or revoked licenses keep driving because they have no other reasonable way to reach work and provide for their families. The number of arrests and apparent prevalence of this habit, however, should alarm those with good driving records.

What do you think? Should legislators beef up state laws to make people think twice about taking these risks?

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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