A startling number of Minnesota drivers don't have a valid license and should not be behind the wheel.
A KARE-TV/MPR report found that approximately 1 in 8 drivers don't have driving privileges because their licenses have been suspended, revoked, canceled or disqualified. In some cases, they had no license at all. Yet they still drive.
Reporter Trisha Volpe analyzed court records between 2008 and 2013 and found that nearly 310,000 people have been convicted for driving when the law says they can't. In the Twin Cities metro area that number was 181,000 with scores of repeat offenders.
Volpe reported that motorists with invalid licenses are twice as likely as those with valid licenses to be involved in a fatal crash.
Driving without a valid driver's license doesn't carry much of a penalty. A ticket and a fine apparently isn't enough of a deterrent, says Jon Cummings of Minnesotans for Safe Driving.
"How do you keep people from getting gin the cars when they are not supposed to?" he asked in an interview posted MPR's website. "Driving is not a right, it is privilege and it can be taken away from you, and people do it anyway. A lot of innocent people pay huge price for other people's lack of responsibility."
KARE-TV did the analysis following the high-profile case of Marion Guerrido, 23. She was the woman driving a vehicle that veered off the ramp leading from westbound Hwy. 7 to northbound Hwy. 100 and landed in a holding pond on the morning of Nov. 21.
She escaped the submerged vehicle, but the five children who were riding with her were found unresponsive after being rescued from car died. Two of them died.
Guerrido had only a driver’s permit and was required to have another licensed adult driver in the car. At the time of the crash, she did not.