Keller @ Large: Problem Handling Dangerous Drivers

BOSTON (CBS) – Did you know that under existing Massachusetts law, you apparently can’t permanently revoke the driving privileges of a dangerous driver?

No, I am not kidding.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

According to the State House News Service, “habitual traffic offenders can be denied a driver’s license for up to four years if they have been convicted at least three times of committing one or more enumerated offenses, or if they have been convicted of 12 or more offenses that carry a 30-day license suspension.”

I repeat, “12 or more offenses.”

And what are those “enumerated offenses”?

They include reckless driving, DWI, leaving the scene of an accident, driving while committing a felony, and my personal favorite, driving without a license.

So, to recap, in Massachusetts, you can lose your license for up to four years if you are convicted at least three times of… driving without a license.

What’s wrong with this picture?

It apparently allows the likes of Paul Baran, a 55-year-old Taunton resident arrested in June for an alleged fatal hit and run on a 17-year-old boy, to be on the road with a valid license despite a driving record that includes nine serious accidents, leaving the scene of an accident, and 15 prior license suspensions.

There’s a new bill being pushed on Beacon Hill that would toughen the law somewhat, but nowhere near enough.

I say, if you get caught driving recklessly and endangering others twice, you should lose your license permanently.

You are a threat to public safety, you were given a second chance, and you blew it, end of story.

But for whatever reason, most likely the clout of the defense lawyer lobby at the State House, that won’t happen.

We’ll continue to give extreme benefit of the doubt to what amounts to homicidal maniacs among us wielding deadly weapons.

Like the 20-something guy I saw blowing through a red light at a busy intersection yesterday, at high speed with phone in hand.

Only a matter of time before he kills someone, hopefully just himself.

Will the state dare to take away his license even then?

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

More from Jon Keller
  • Stephen Stein

    “in Massachusetts, you can lose your license for up to four years if you are convicted at least three times of… driving without a license.”

    I listened to the rest of the commentary for a proposed solution to this conundrum without satisfaction. I heard “you should lose your license permanently,” but surely you can see that this will not solve the problem.

    I kept waiting for the words “jail time” or even “massive fine” – certainly the solution has to lie along those lines.

    • mikey

      Yo-Yo Stephen! (a salutation – not a description). I thought you were taking a 10 day vacation from posting. What happened to that idea?

      • mikey

        I was only kiddin’, you add a lot to the conversation. : )

      • Stephen Stein

        Ah, I see The Batman beat me to it!

        I always wondered what Batman’s first name was. Now I know!

      • Stephen Stein

        No, I’m taking a 10-day vacation from posting about (and as much as I can avoid it, reading about) politics and the never-ending campaign.

        Can’t give up Keller completely – I’d get the shakes. :-)

      • The Batman

        I think Stephen said he was taking a break from politics and political discussions. Don’t think this counts as political.

      • mikey

        I get the shakes just thinking about the non-stop political attack ads that are coming. OMG.

    • Ron

      Well said. As long as we keep electing the same pols without holding their feet to the fire nothing will change.

      • mikey


  • jaygee

    We consistently hear of people who have been arrested for scores of criminal acts and yet are not in prison. We also hear of those arrested for drunk driving for the 3rd, 6th or 9th time and they keep getting away with it. I don’t know who has been given the job of writing laws in this state but it is quite obvious that they never really got around to what the punishment should be for violating basic rules.Most of us don’t even want to get a parking ticket let alone something like DUI but there are some who don’t care and they are the ones who should be sent a very strong message. Heavy fines, loss of license and if need be, jail time.

    • tsal

      jaygee – I also think a judge who lets a repeat offender go should be punished or perhaps disbarred.

  • tsal

    I agree with Stephen. I was thinking automatic jail time and automatic fine. I’m not sure about jail time on first offense but I think the fine should be huge for a first. Also lower level to .02 for all except 0 for anyone who has had a license for less than 2 years and actually enforce it. Maybe driving courses although I doubt that will work.

  • emom

    Welcome to the state of STUPID VILLE, where anyone can have the right to drive even if they have no license and or tons of violations…….. now where is my new car,, the one with rubber bumpers around it, bullet proof glass, tank like body, and a reverse magnet to repell the idiots coming at me… BUBBLE WRAP ANYONE…

  • Joe

    Here’s an idea. They have systems in place now that force a driver to blow into a breathilizer before it will start. I’m sure the technology is there to upgrade these devices to monitor and regulate different automotive systems. Set a rev limiter so the vehicle will not go over 65 mph. A system that monitors driving habits, lane changes, tailgating, seat belt usage, sudden braking, rapid acceleration, erratic movement and whether or not directionals were used while changing lanes. I’m sure I’m missing a few things that could be added but you get the idea.

    Make them mandatory If a habitual bad driver wants his/her licence back after a certain reasonable number of driving infractions (obviously less than currently allowed). Then once a month the information is downloaded and reviewed by a probation officer. This will force the driver to change their driving habits. That is if they want to keep their licence.

    The driver would be responsible for all the costs involved. The computer itself and installation, the monitoring device, monthly probation fee and fines to be paid before you are eligible. It would also be a big boost for local businesses and in the long run save lives and money.

    Basically you would be allowing some people to still drive but stripping them completely of the privacy their accustomed to. The worst of the worst drivers don’t qualify and lose their licence for life.

    Just a thought…..

    • Joe

      Also, give them a special licence plate so cops and other drivers know the driver has one of these systems. That way the driver knows that people are watching his/her every move on the road. Considering everyone now has a cell phone camera that alone would force the driver to not drive like a jacka$$.

      • tsal

        both excellent ideas. Only works with those who drink but it’s probably the best place to start. I like the license plate idea a lot too.

        Also outlawing using cell phones – period – while driving. Not even if it’s not hand held – no cell phones while car is moving

    • mikey

      How about we just lock them up?

      • Ron

        The problem with locking them up is that we have to pay the bill for their room and board.

      • mikey

        You crack me up Irish and you don’t post enough! Where’s KathyD these days, I miss her!

      • BostonIrish

        mikey, you play a lot of bingo?

      • mikey

        Bingo again Ron! That’s why these losers are out driving around – too expensive to put them away. Sad.

    • The Batman

      The above would work quite well if an individual could only drive their own car. But those add-ons would do nothing to stop them from driving someone elses car or from buying another car and simple attaching plates to it illegally. Sadly, in the society we live in today there are more and more people who are just going to do what they want without any regard for laws, common sense, other peoples’ safety or consquences.

      • tsal

        True and I wasn’t thinking that Batman but there are a lot of repeat offenders who are more an average joe than someone who will just use another car or steal a car. I wonder what the statistics are on average joe vs someone willing to go to extremes.

  • Willow

    We’ll never see stiff fines or jail time for any of these violations. What good does it do to revoke a license for life when people don’t think twice about driving without one?

    I absolutely agree that using any kind of cellphone device should be outlawed. Just the other day I was about to proceed for a green light only to nearly hit a car screaming through the red light while the operator was obliviously talking away on her cellpnone.

  • Joe

    Tsal, the breathilizer would be part of it but more important it would monitor the cars every move and restrict top end speed.

    • tsal

      again makes good sense – restricting top end speed in all cases is not a bad idea

  • Joe

    However, I disagree on banning cell phones while driving. Texting or sending emails while driving is first of all insane and stupid and second its already illegal. When they passed the texting bill they extensively looked into banning talking on a cell phone while driving and chose not to. However, they did ban cell phones for young drivers.

    • tsal

      Joe, I can honestly say I have not been in a car as either a driver or passenger when I have not seen at least one person (of all ages) totally oblivious to the fact that there are other cars on the road. For some reason, people cannot talk on a cell phone and drive. I understand the majority probably can. However, the majority are also responsible enough to not drive and drink. In both cases I do not think you can go by what the majority can do.

  • NikW

    I love Liberal Massachusetts.

  • Mark

    Now I really feel bad for that guy whole stole $12 and got a year in jail. Yet that sc*m bag above is out free still driving apparently. Justice served?

  • emom

    HEY HERE IS A NOVEL IDEA,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, ANKLE BRACLET. monitors their every move, and it can be set that they can not leave home or go that far from home.. home confinment.. Their job,,,, oh hell no, They do not deserve to work if they are out ready to hurt others, Sorry but maybe at that point they would learn a most valuable lesson.. SOBRIETY AND LIFE. I hate drunk drivers they reak havoc on our lives, take away our freedom and the lives of the innocent. so with that why should they even have what the others have lost. Life, work or anything. Think of the victims that are out of work with the possibility of loosing their job because of the accident, It happens. Hit them were it will hurt most. confinment.

  • joe

    Test post

  • Joe

    Tsal, I agree about some people who are not able to talk on a phone and drive. However, these are the same people who can’t drive period. The same people who, if allowed to drive at all, should be driving in a Nascar style car. No seats, no radio, no windows, a roll cage, helmet and fire proof suit. We should probably throw in a life jacket for good measure.

    These are the same people when your’re looking at traffic slowing down ahead of you that decide they should slam on their brakes. Or my favorite, stop 50 feet behind the car in front of them therefore leaving you no option but to lock them up. These are the same people who go thru life with everyone around them asking “how do they get through a normal day?”

    Sorry, I’m not ready to surrender my common sense freedom and the freedom of most others with a half an ounce of common sense because of a bunch of people who can’t tie their own shoes! soon, we will not be allowed to drive period because of these people. I have no problem with enhanced driving and cognitive tests to see if you can walk and chew gum at the same time.

    However, I’m sick and tired of a few individuals messing it up for the rest of planet earth! Maybe we should make driving tests mandatory every few years. Or maybe we should make a drivers licence as difficult to get as a permit to carry a gun. One is a constitutional right and the other a privilege. Why is the one that’s a right so much harder to get. Both a gun and a car are dangerous weapons aren’t they?

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