- Associated Press - Monday, July 4, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A new policy to crack down on suspended driving in Lincoln has reduced the number of repeat offenders, the city’s public safety director says.

The Lincoln Police Department launched the effort in February in which officers not only arrest the driver but also seize the vehicle, according to the Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/29eA3GL ).

An analysis by Public Safety Director Tom Casady shows the number of suspended driving tickets as a percentage of all traffic tickets issued has fallen. March, April and May had the fewest since January 2013, he said.

The policy came after a task force of police, prosecutors and residents last year reviewed state laws and local statistics to see what could be done to tackle the problem. Repeat offenders tie up police resources and fill up court dockets.

Lincoln police issued almost 4,000 citations to suspended drivers in 2015.

Unlike other public safety crackdowns that fizzle after being announced with great fanfare, Casady said he expects the policy will be an ongoing deterrent to repeat suspended driving.

“You’ve taken away the instrument that they need: The car,” Casady said.

Casady said the policy isn’t directed at first-time offenders.

“Officers are cutting drivers a pretty wide berth here because they are sensitive to the time involved,” the public safety director said, noting it can take an average of 30 minutes for a tow truck to arrive.

But officers will have the vehicle towed if the offender isn’t eligible for reinstatement, has been cited by Lincoln police regarding a suspension in the last year or has two or more convictions for driving on a suspended license, according to the policy.

Casady said he understands that some people believe this policy hurts working people, but he said most of these arrests aren’t occurring at times when people are going to work. Rather, they peak during the early morning hours when bars close.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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