- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

APPLETON, Wis. (AP) - Many Wisconsin drivers who lose their driving privileges continue to operate their vehicles and commit additional violations, state figures show.

From January to June, there were more than 57,000 convictions for operating while suspended, without a valid license or after revocation, according to Wisconsin Department of Transportation data. That number coincides with last year’s trend, when nearly 114,000 licensing-related convictions were logged, Post-Crescent Media (https://post.cr/1qY0CV9 ) reported.

During the first six months of 2014, more Wisconsin residents were convicted of driving with suspended licenses than speeding 11-19 mph over the limit, traditionally the top traffic offense in the state.

The number of unlicensed drivers on Wisconsin roads is a problem that gets worse when the economy isn’t in good shape, according to Menasha-Neenah Municipal Court Judge James Gunz.

“It would shock people if they knew how many people are driving around without a license,” Gunz said, adding he has dealt with a defendant who had 14 citations for driving with a suspended license.

The statistics don’t tell the entire story because they don’t include citations that haven’t been processed and drivers who weren’t caught, according to law enforcement officials.

“A lot of people get away with it,” said Jason Weber, community liaison officer with the Town of Menasha Police Department. “I suspect I pass a handful of them on my way to and from work. How would you know?”

Driver’s licenses are suspended and revoked for a multitude of reasons, including drunken driving, underage drinking, unpaid fines, excessive traffic violations and driving without insurance. Many people decide to drive illegally rather than using an alternate form of transportation.

“There’s a variety of reasons why they continue to drive,” Weber said. “Some of it is financial; some are just scofflaws. We’re a society that is dependent on vehicles and people think it’s more of a right to drive than a privilege. They dig themselves into a hole they can’t get out of.”


Information from: Post-Crescent Media, https://www.postcrescent.com

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