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DMV Study: Unlicensed Drivers Pose Threat on California Roads

Drivers with revoked or suspended licenses or who drive without a license are more likely to cause fatal car accidents.

Drivers who are unlicensed or have a suspended or revoked license are nearly three times more likely to cause a fatal crash, a new Department of Motor Vehicles study found.

But it’s even more dangerous to be an unlicensed driver rather than drive with a suspended or revoked license. Compared with the average legal driver, such drivers are 2.6 to 2.73 times more likely to cause a fatal crash, depending on the driver, the study found.

The study, Fatal Crash Rates for Suspended/Revoked and Unlicensed Drivers, took crash data over a span of 23 years. Researchers looked at the correlation among two-vehicle fatal crashes where one driver was at fault. The at-fault crash risk of drivers without permission to drive has not diminished over time.

The Department of Motor Vehicles found that people between the ages of 20 to 29 who do not have authorized licenses have the largest percentage of two-vehicle fatal car accidents.  

If caught with a suspended or revoked license or found to be driving without one, the citation can result in a 30-day vehicle impoundment, thousands of dollars in fines, as well as time added to a suspension or probation period.

In San Rafael, the police department's vehicle impound policy toward unlicensed drivers stirred controversy in 2011 when neighbors from the Canal area — a densely populated 2.5 square-mile stretch north of Highway 580 that is home to a large immigrant community — said that they were unfairly targeted at DUI checkpoints. The city has since relaxed its policy to allow unlicensed individuals, accompanied by a licensed driver, to pick up their cars from the impound lot without waiting 30 days.

Ralph Canine February 15, 2013 at 03:37 PM
One of the reasons that lower income people drive without licenses is that they can't afford the mandatory automobile insurance. Soon, many of us may find ourselves in a similar position where health insurance is concerned. Once ObamaCare hits in 2013 - 2014, many people who have have health insurance today from their employers will lose it as the employers drop coverage and opt to pay the fine instead. Insurance rates are already rising. Even with subsidized coverage on the California insurance exchange, many people may find that their income is too high for Medicaid but that the available policies take too big a bite out of their family budget. They will roll the dice and pay the fine. We shall see!
George February 15, 2013 at 04:24 PM
Make car ownership a crime, ban cars! That ought to fix it.
David Edmondson February 15, 2013 at 05:07 PM
There wouldn't be as many unlicensed drivers out there if we didn't invest so much money in infrastructure that all but forces people into car ownership, nor would we have as much carnage on our roads if we designed them for safety instead of speed.
Tina McMillan February 15, 2013 at 05:07 PM
If we don't apply the law to every driver how can we expect anyone to follow them? The idea that it is unfair to take away a vehicle from an unlicensed driver is a false and dangerous kind of pity. It presumes that driving is a right rather than a privilege. It supports potentially lethal behavior. It also brings the issue of illegal immigration to the forefront of the conversation. The national policies on immigration have completely ignored guest worker programs which could begin to address this problem. To say that it costs to much to carry basic car insurance and registration means the people who are paying these fees will bear the burden of increased costs due to uninsured and unregistered drivers. We must reach a point where we accept responsibility for the laws we create.
Craig Belfor February 15, 2013 at 05:26 PM
I'm guessing that many of the fatal crashes involving this group are also the result of a car chase. The driver knows he'll lose the car, (he has warrants, or it's part of a crime chase [robbery, shooting, etc.]). Pull the numbers, Tina, and tell us if people of this type are more inclined to run if the lights flash. By the way, I've noticed that people who appear to be illegal aliens drive very carefully, as they know they'll lose their car and possibly get deported. They don't want to get into trouble on their way to work.
Rick Voorhees February 15, 2013 at 05:32 PM
You wonder why are rates keep going up..We have to pay for the uninsured drivers..They will continue to drive illegally and without insurance. They can get another social security # and drive again...I'm sorry I am not very sympathetic on this issue.
Bob Ratto February 15, 2013 at 06:17 PM
Some enterprising lawyer could potentially find a way to get a big score out of this-liability could be argued as falling on the City that chooses to ignore the law/look the other way in enforcing this. And yes, this is why your insurance premiums will continue to rise..if you don't have uninsured motorist coverage, you should really think about it.
Rick Voorhees February 15, 2013 at 09:36 PM
That's why the ones without insurance and a driver's lic will continue to drive just because we are covering their insurance....How sweet.............is that!
Formula410 February 15, 2013 at 09:52 PM
Unlicensed drivers: do what a lot of your predecessors and current comrads do now: bus, bike, carpool, walk, taxi, etc. The danger with suspended drivers is not thier lack of "skill" behind the wheel or an accumulation of DMV points. Most get thier licenses suspended because they are irresponsible. They get a ticket and don't pay fines or show up to court. That same irresponsibility in their general life translates into how they drive a car and other risk taking behavior like reckless driving, DUI and just plain disregard for other people. Problem with the 30 day impound is these folks are rarely driving their own car, it's an employer, friend or relative who begs the impounding agency to give it back because they claim they "didn't know" the driver was unlicensed or suspended. They will continue to get behind the wheel. Just remember, they are in control of a couple thousand pound killing machine.Car control vs. gun control?
wassup February 15, 2013 at 10:31 PM
simple solution. if you get pulled over and don't have insurance you go to jail....just like in the other 49 states.
Regan Taylor February 16, 2013 at 12:29 AM
I've been in three crashes -- all three I was hit by unlicensed drivers who....had no insurance and no way to pay the damages -- if they were still in town. I didn't need a study to tell me they are dangerous. I figured that out all on my own.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr February 16, 2013 at 07:02 AM
If you treat illegal aliens equally then you are a racist. Then Novato police chief kreins refused to obey the 30 day impound requirement in 2010. When governor moonbeam was elected his leftist legislature repealed the impound requirement for persons who had never had a license, so that only CITIZENS would have their cars impounded. If a driver is stopped and has never had a license, all he has to do is give a different name each time he is stopped for traffic violations and driving without a license and his car will never be impounded. If a person cannot afford insurance then they can ride the bus.
Lloyd February 16, 2013 at 04:59 PM
OK lets get real. You don't need insurance to get a drivers license. You do need insurance if you are driving a car that is not insured. This nonsense of having different set of standards is absurd. I am sympathetic to the cost of insurance. Anyone who has a child under 25 is very well aware of how costly it is. People driving without insurance should have their cars impounded, period. If there is no consequence to this activity what are we telling those that break the law. The car stays impounded until you show up with insurance. If you can't get it you sell the car to someone who can. You can't ask to be treated equally only when it is convenient. Choosing which laws are followed shouldn't be the path to citizenship or acceptable to the majority footing the bill. It is time the socialists state government do their job for all or get thrown the hell out b4 we are all up the creek without a paddle. Is anyone else sick of the States complete lack of diligence when it comes to virtually every aspect of our lives. Do you feel like a second class citizen because you follow the laws instead of breaking or ignoring them? Something is very wrong and troubling with this and many other issues.
Roger February 16, 2013 at 05:09 PM
A close relative of mine was hit in the rear by an unlicensed driver 4 months ago on 101 in Santa Rosa. The unlicensed and uninsured Hispanic driver was cited by CHP and let go to drive away. Some costs such as rental car was not covered by my relative's own insurance. The political feelings of some young people in my bigger family are starting to turn anti Hispanic because of this real life experience of the double standard of applying the law. Very sad side-effect of liberal policies.
Roger February 16, 2013 at 05:36 PM
CHP told me that unlicensed drivers can tell CHP at an accident the name of any license company and account number and he has to just assume it is valid. He also told me that Viking Insurance is well known to give Hispanics coverage easily and then say coverage is not valid when an accident happens because they lied on the contract.
Roger February 17, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Formula410, you make a good point. How about the Gallo case in San Francisco in 2010 where a US citizen chose to be unlicensed? He got cited for going wrong way on a one-way street and had his vehicle impounded, but a few months later killed a person on a bike with the same vehicle. A person should not drive until they have been tested by a DMV in-the-car tester. We have that program for a reason. 1 in 7 drivers are uninsured and the percentage is growing. But it is cheaper to go the lawless path...no license fee, no insurance premium, and no way to track down for court appearance. A no brainer....you never have to grow up.

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