Monday, July 5, 2010

The RISKS of driving on a suspended license.

My drivers licenceImage by davidciani via Flickr
More and more California motorists seem willing to take a big risk by continuing to drive a car or motor cycle on a revoked or suspended drivers license!  Aside from breaking the law, it's dumb, extremely expensive, and often more costly to the driver's family and friends!
California Vehicle Code 14601 prohibits driving when you know your drivers license has been suspended or revoked. While only a misdemeanor, this crime could land first-time offenders in jail for not less than 5 days, be fined not less than $300. 
Obviously the penaltlies multiply for further convictions, and are even steeper for DUI offenders...however, there's another major consequence.  Upon each arrest, the vehicle is immediatly impounded, towed, and stored for a minumum of 30 days, and what's worse...quite often the offender is driving someone elses car!
I'll share a true life example of this, and how an innocent car owner suddenly became a victim too! A friend of mine loaned the family's second car(a Suburu Legacy hatchback) to his 21-year old step-daughter to go pick up a friend. She'd done this before when her own car was out of commission  for one reason or another.
What he and his wife did not know was that his step-daughter had two outstanding warrents for un-paid traffic tickets, and had her drivers license suspended!  That afternoon she was pulled over by a California Highway Patrol officer for running a stop sign near the intersection of Bascom Avenue and San Carlos Street in San Jose, California.
She was taken to jail, and the Suburu was towed to a yard in Santa Clara, California, not far from the CHP headquarters on Zanker Road.
My friend was suddenly caught in a financial mess.  Even if he chose not to bail-out his step-daughter, how was he going to afford losing his car for 30 days....and paying tow and storage charges of close to $2000?
Also, this second car was used to transport he and his wife's handicapped granddaughter(and wheelchair) to doctors appointments, as well as other family needs!  It was more than just the money! It was the inconvenience!
However, as hard as my friend pleaded with the CHP, state law requires 30 days impound, unless, in certain can manage to get the offending drivers license re-instated, and show proof with DMV documentation.
Fortunatly, my friend took an extra step and decided to visit the CHP office with his step-daughter, to discuss any possible options with the CHP sergent in charge. This particular officer was very understanding, and agreed to release the car from impound....if his step daughter promised to take care of her tickets and get her license re-instated.
My friend was lucky!  He got his Suburu back that afternoon, however, he still had to pay the tow company $335, but that's a lot cheaper than $2000!
I have a feeling there are many more car owners and family members suffering a much worse fate than my friend and his step-daughter. Should you find yourself in a similiar mess you may try what my friend did, and get lucky.
However, the best advice is to be VERY CAREFUL who you loan your car to....if anyone at all!  As for you violators, GET REAL!  SMARTIN UP!  It's dumb enough to ignore paying your tickets.  Why be an even bigger idiot by letting them go to warrent...and having your drivers license suspended in the first place.
Thanks, and stay safe on the road!
Sincerely, PeteCam4
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