It could shock you to know how many people are on the road and don't have a drivers license, either because it was taken away or they simply never got one. On Wednesday night’s Eye on KELOLAND
we showed you people driving away from the Minnehaha County Courthouse after pleading guilty for not having a license.
So what are the penalties and why aren't they being enforced?
As people walked out to their cars just minutes after being in court for not having a drivers license, KELOLAND's Lou Raguse asked why they were breaking the law, again.
We caught them easy enough, so why isn't law enforcement doing the same?
Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Dave Nelson says, “I don't think there's any question but that we can be and probably should be much more aggressive, particularly with repeat offenders.”
Nelson says the number of people who drive with a revoked or suspended license is astounding.
He says, “We have people driving on the streets of Sioux Falls, on the streets on South Dakota that aren't eligible to get a drivers license for the next five years or longer because of their history of driving while suspended, or driving while revoked, or driving without proof of insurance.”
Nelson says this class two misdemeanor can send a person to jail for 30 days...or even up to a year. But he says that rarely happens.
“Driving without a license is a very foolish reason to go to jail. Some people do when they repeat enough, but typically that's not what the penalty is,” Nelson says.
Nelson says he's tried to fix the serious problem before.
He says, “We experimented with that several years ago where I had members of the Police Department come over to courtroom 1A and follow these people out into the parking lot and cite them and we were successful in doing that. But again that's a very very labor intensive and expensive and time consuming proposition.”
He says it essentially comes down to money, and it would be too expensive to put everybody who drives without a license in jail.
We contacted judges who see people daily for driving without a license and asked them what they think could be done to keep them from behind the wheel. Two we spoke with on the phone didn't want to comment on camera. And one told us it happens every day. Sheriff Mike Milstead says they just don't have enough resources to make sure those without a license don't drive away from court.
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