License suspensions don’t deter all Wis. drivers

Scales of justice
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APPLETON (AP) – Tens of thousands of Wisconsin drivers continue to drive even though their licenses have been suspended or revoked.

More than 74,000 people were convicted last year of driving with a suspended license, and another 14,000 people were convicted of driving with a revoked license, the Post-Crescent Media reported.

For some drivers, having their licenses suspended or revoked doesn’t seem to be much of a deterrent, said Jason Weber, a spokesman for the Town of Menasha police department.

“I don’t know what the answer is, or how to send the message that you shouldn’t drive,” he said.

He says people generally are caught only if they’re involved in a collision or commit a traffic violation.

Driver’s licenses can be suspended or revoked for a variety of reasons, including failing to pay fines, being convicted of drunken driving and driving a car with canceled insurance.

Driving with a suspended license isn’t a criminal offense, but it carries a fine of $124, Town of Menasha Municipal Judge Len Kachinsky said.

“We see it in municipal court all the time,” Kachinsky said.

Driving with a revoked license is more serious, however. It’s a criminal offense that typically arises from drunken-driving convictions and habitual traffic offenses, and the penalties can include fines up to $2,500 and jail time.

Some drivers who lose their licenses continue to drive, taking their chances that they won’t get caught, Appleton Police Capt. Todd Freeman said. He noted that operating while suspended “is a very common offense that officers run into daily.”

There might be some motorists who don’t realize their licenses are suspended but far more know and choose to risk it anyway, he said.

“They’re playing that game of whether they are going to get stopped,” he said. “They need to work to pay their tickets, but they can’t legally drive until they get their license back.”

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