The Weapon of Choice

by Bernard McCormick Tuesday, March 26, 2013 No Comment(s)

We see it all the time. Heavy traffic on I-95, but at least it's moving. Everybody doing 65 to 70. Suddenly some maniac comes racing by at a much higher speed, changing lanes like a juking running back, recklessly cutting in front of other drivers, often followed by another car or two doing the same thing. We suspect these people drive like this all the time, and we wonder how they get away with it.

Well, we are learning most of them don’t. News reports last week explained that many drivers involved in recent serious accidents had terrible driving records – suspended licenses, DUIs, multiple unpaid tickets, no insurance – sometimes all of these. And they keep driving until the kill themselves and maybe somebody else.

That’s what happened to a 26-year-old man last week. He and a passenger died in a high-speed crash in Hollywood. He had racked up 12 traffic violations since 2007, including five speeding incidents and driving with a suspended license and failing to pay traffic fines. Because he had a lawyer in court, most of those incidents were not officially on record.

Another case separately reported by the Sun-Sentinel involved a driver who has a 13-year record of infractions, was involved in a fatal 2010 crash, and continued driving and getting six more tickets.

Bottom line: It is very hard to keep people with terrible driving records from continuing to drive terribly. One way to do that might be to impound vehicles of habitual offenders or anybody caught driving illegally with a suspended license. It has been reported that thousands of such people are driving our roads every day. They simply ignore the law until the day they kill themselves or somebody else. Note the stats reported by the Sun-Sentinel. In 2012 there were 195,467 Florida drivers – including more than 15,000 in Broward and 16,000 in Palm Beach – cited with criminal violations for driving with a suspended or revoked license. If that doesn’t scare sober people off the road, what will?

Cars can be impounded, but it doesn’t happen often. Suppose a bad driver had his car (or whosever car he was driving) taken away immediately, and required to pay a stiff fine - $1,000 sounds nice – and clear up all outstanding tickets, just to get it back. Perhaps that would send a message. It is not that this situation has been totally ignored. Some judges and legislators have been pressing for stiffer penalties, and penalties that can be enforced. But like gun control, such efforts manage to be thwarted in Florida’s legislature.

It does not seem to matter that such drivers, like crazy people with guns, kill people. They just choose a different weapon.

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