Suspended driver's license surprises Rybak

  • Article by: ABBY SIMONS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 9, 2008 - 7:18 AM

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said there was "no excuse" for underpaying a 2006 speeding ticket and he was unaware his driver's license has been suspended since Feb. 14.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has been driving without a valid license for nearly three months.

His driver's license has been suspended since Feb. 14 because he failed to pay the full amount of a 2006 speeding ticket, Minnesota court records show.

Rybak said Thursday night he had no idea his license had been pulled.

"I paid my speeding ticket and I fully intended to pay the right amount," he said. "People shouldn't speed, people should pay their speeding tickets, and I shouldn't have sped. There's no excuse."

Court records show that he still owes $80 of a $222 speeding ticket received in June 2006 in Olmsted County. Rybak said he thought he paid the full balance when he mailed a $142 payment to the court one month later.

Rybak said he has no recollection of receiving a letter from state authorities informing him of the suspension.

Rybak said he learned of the suspension from a staff member at the Minneapolis Police Department.

That staff member had discovered the suspension and informed Rybak about 4:30 p.m. He said he was between budget meetings and put it aside until he was confronted by a local news crew in the parking lot outside City Hall. He then left his car on the street and rode the bus home.

He's unsure how the mix-up may have occurred, but court records show the initial fine was $70, with court costs, surcharges and fees totaling $152.

Minnesota law requires that the state send a letter notifying the driver his license has been suspended. State officials, however, couldn't determine late Thursday night whether a letter was sent to Rybak.

To get his license back, Rybak will have to show a receipt that he paid the fine and then pay a $20 reinstatement fee. He'll get his license back the following day.

Records show Rybak, who took office in 2002, had other speeding convictions in 1989 and 1994.

Rybak said he received the ticket when traveling on Hwy. 52 from a Democratic convention in Rochester to the opening of the Mosaic Celebration. He doesn't recall how fast he was driving, but does recall that he was running late.

The mayor said he hopes the incident doesn't reduce his influence when it comes to urging residents to pay city fines.

"I thought I had paid the whole amount," he said. "As I recall, I looked at the sheet and thought my fine was $140. If I was reading that wrong and sending in the wrong amount, I will obviously send in the right amount."

Rybak vowed to get the matter cleared up today, as soon as he gets to work on his bicycle: The two-wheeled commute was previously scheduled as part of a bike tour of the city.

"I'm in the public eye and rightfully have to be held to a very high standard," he said. "I will get it fixed."

Abby Simons • 612-673-4921

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