KOTA News Extra: No license, still driving - KOTA Territory News

KOTA News Extra: No license, still driving

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More than nine thousand people had their driver's licenses suspended or revoked last year in South Dakota - many due to drunk or reckless driving.

But how many of those drivers are still on the road?

Next time you're on the road, take a closer look at the driver next to you.

 "They have to work like all of us do, they have to support a family," said Captain Jay Evensen with the Pennington County Sheriff's office.

But that driver could be part of an estimated five percent on the road with a revoked or suspended license.

"I'm sorry for driving without a license," said Sarah Puckett, a 24/7 program participant. 

But it's a risk Puckett, and many others take  in order to comply with the court ordered 24/7 program.

"I got a $130 ticket, I got driving with no license two times. I don't think the third one will be good," said Puckett, who was stopped by Deputies outside of the 24/7 program in Rapid City and found to be without a license.

"One of the places I'll park is on Maple Avenue, past the 24/7 building," said Deputy Sheriff Daniel Lewis, with the Pennington County Sheriff's office. 

Officers estimate roughly half of the drivers in the 24/7 program area are driving on a suspended or revoked license. While some may have a work permit that allows them to drive, deputies are kept very busy patrolling the area.

"Many people who have suspended or revoked licenses didn't have insurance to begin with, so when they're revoked they probably still won' t have insurance," said Lewis.

"You put people on [the 24/7 program] who don't' have a choice, don't have any form of transportation. [It's] setting them up and on top of it, there's police officers sitting here nabbing people," said Jeremiah Huntley, a 24/7 program participant.

Driving with a suspended or revoked license can cost you hundreds in fines  and even put you behind bars.

"In the last two years, we've written about 176 citations for people driving under suspension. And 32 of driving under revocation. Those are the ones that have been caught," said Evensen.

But getting caught is a risk some feel they have to take even though they know the consequences.

"It's hard to get back on your feet when you have to do this [24/7 program] and get around. And you're imposing on other people's lives, people who love you, asking them to take time out of their busy schedule, asking them to take you here," said Katie Teal, a 24/7 program participant.

Officers say it's a bad choice, one they're waiting for a percentage of drivers to make.

"The underlying cause of this was a person made a bad choice, got in a car and drove. If you're going to make those choices, you're going to have to accept the responsibility and consequences of those choices," said Evensen. 

Nationwide, unlicensed drivers are involved in one of every five fatal crashes.

In South Dakota, driving with a suspended license results in a $270 fine.

Driving with a revoked license is more serious.
It is a class one misdemeanor.

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