Most of us have at least one parking or speeding ticket in our driving careers. We get assessed points against our licenses, pay our fines and promise not to do it again. But, according to a Denver Post article, there may be about 225,000 illegal drivers in Colorado. These illegal drivers caused nearly one-fourth of all traffic deaths in Colorado last year.
In 2008, Colorado saw 548 people killed in motor vehicle crashes, and of those, 130 of these fatalities (24 percent) involved illegal drivers. According to the auditors’ report, only seven other states had a higher rate of fatal crashes involving illegal drivers last year.
Getting and keeping your driver’s license should be considered a privilege. In order to keep that license a driver must be a responsible driver. The state of Colorado may suspend or revoke your license for these reasons:
Driving under the influence of drugs
Refusing to take a blood-alcohol test
Leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident that resulted in an injury
Driving without liability insurance
Failing to keep current on child support payments
Exceeding points violations
Adults over 21: 12 points in 12 month or 18 points in 24 months
Adults ages 18 – 20: 9 points in 12 months, 12 points in 24 month or 14+ points before age 21
Minors under 18: 6 points in 12 months or 7 points before age 18
If your driver’s license has been suspended you may have it reinstated. If your license has been revoked, your driver’s license is completely nullified. After satisfying your legal obligations, you may be eligible to obtain a new license and retake the written and driving exams.
An audit was requested by Colorado state legislators last year after Francis Hernandez, an illegal immigrant and unlicensed driver was accused of speeding when he caused a car crash that killed three people. One of his victims was 3-year old Marten Kudlis, who was enjoying ice cream with his family in an Aurora Baskin Robbins. Hernandez, who was only 23 years old at the time of this car crash had already been arrested 16 times and jailed eight times for prior traffic offenses and misdemeanors from assault, theft, fraud, forgery, driving under restraint to resisting arrest. Francis Hernandez has never held a driver’s license in his life.
The Chairwoman of the legislative committee, State Rep. Dianne Primavera questioned why Hernandez had never been charged as a habitual traffic offender, a felony that can carry an eighteen month sentence.
“Was he ever imprisoned after eight of them and jail time?” she asked.
Peter Wier, executive director of the Department of Public Safety, answered that a habitual traffic offender felony can only be charged after three major traffic violations in seven years. These violations include drunk driving, vehicular assault or homicide or driving with a suspended or revoked license.
Despite the legal consequences, 250,000 Colorado illegal drivers have not been deterred from getting behind the wheel of a car.
These illegal drivers pose “a significant problem in Colorado,” says auditor John Trull. “All the strategies we have don’t deter them.”
While the auditors did not present a plan to reduce these numbers, they did include a list of strategies used by other states including impounding vehicles or license plates, putting special stickers on cars driven by illegal drivers and house arrest.
Presently, illegal drivers are thumbing their noses at the existing system. It’s time for legislators to make some changes to get these illegal drivers off the road.