Can People With Revoked Licenses Be Stopped From Driving?

A tragic car accident in which a man who was driving with a revoked license hit and killed a pedestrian has raised an important question: Why are people who are not allowed to drive still behind the wheel?

In a Channel 3000 interview, our attorney Nicholas F. Gansner explained that this is a complicated question. “If he has access to a car, if he has access to car keys, he is physically able to get behind the wheel of a car and drive it, even if doing so is illegal,” Gansner said in the interview.

In the case in question, the man who caused the car accident went to great lengths to circumvent the measures that were designed to prevent him from driving due to license revocation, as the tentative charges against him demonstrate. According to Channel 3000, not only has he been tentatively charged with Knowingly Operating While Revoked Causing Death, he also potentially faces charges of Ignition Interlock Device Tampering, Failure to Install and Resisting/Obstructing an Officer.

Should penalties be more severe for people caught driving without a license? Currently in Wisconsin, a first offense can lead to a fine of $50 to $200. Penalties get more severe with each subsequent offense. In reality, there are many people who have their license revoked, acknowledge the mistake and try to move forward with their lives while following the restrictions imposed upon them until they can legally have their driver’s license reinstated. For these people, an occupational license may even be granted to allow driving to work and other necessary trips.

Would it be fair to increase penalties for generally law-abiding citizens who want to move on and may never commit a crime again in exchange for the hope of stopping those who are more insistent about breaking the law? If so, what would those penalties look like? Gansner argues that even taking away a person’s keys or confiscating their car could be circumvented, as revoked driver could take a friend or relative’s vehicle and continue to drive illegally.

Ultimately, there are no easy answers to this complicated question.