Many arrested for unlicensed driving see charges dismissed - WSMV News 4

Many arrested for unlicensed driving see charges dismissed

Posted: Updated:
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Many might think people caught driving on a suspended or revoked license go to jail for months or even years. But the Channel 4 I-Team has learned that's not the case.

In Nashville, generally speaking, no license is no problem.

"It was just like out of nowhere," Tasha Dyer said. "I mean, he was going so fast."

Dyer never saw the driver who hit her at State Route 45 and Rio Vista last year.

"And it was a hit-and-run," Dyer said. "He hit me so hard. I didn't even know what happened."

The crash totaled her car and shook up her two passengers, her 7-year-old son and her grandmother.

A good Samaritan followed the driver and police later arrested Don Bender. According to the police report, Bender admitted to police he ran because he didn't have a license.

Dyer had never heard that until the I-Team told her.

"No way," she exclaimed. "So, nothing really."

Bender was sent to jail for two days. This was his fifth charge of driving on a suspended or revoked license.

A two-day sentence may sound light, but it's unusually severe.

In Davidson County, most people charged with driving on a revoked or suspended license don't do any jail time at all. Most have their cases dismissed.

That's the policy at the office of District Attorney Glenn Funk.

"That's really more of a crime of poverty," Funk said.

Funk said many people lose their licenses because of unpaid tickets, court costs or points on their licenses, and just need a chance to get it back.

"Our policy is, number one, do you want to have a couple of months to try to get your license back? And if they get their driver's license back, then we dismiss the case," Funk said.

If defendants make even an effort to get their licenses back, the district attorney asks the judge to dismiss the charges.

Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton sees hundreds of driver's license cases a week. She sends people to a class that helps them learn how to get their licenses back.

Dalton said that sending people to jail only makes the cycle worse. They go to jail, lose their jobs and can't catch up with their fines and fees.

It's a story that's heard a lot at state driver's license offices, where long waits and accumulating fees make it hard for people to restore their driving privileges.

"My court costs were $2,900," Alex Borras said.

Borras lost his license for back child support and being involved in a wreck with no insurance.

Those are the kind of offenders Funk and judges hope to help.

Bender, the driver in the hit-and-run crash, said he can't afford to reinstate his license. He declined to go on camera.

"A lot of people do come back to us with their driver's licenses," Dalton said. "They come back, they have their licenses, they're happy, we're happy, because that's the goal. The question is when they come back and they've not done what we've asked them to do."

Under Tennessee law, people who repeatedly drive on a suspended or revoked license can get up to a year in jail, but that's not what the I-Team saw in court.

Eugene Saltz was arrested for a sixth time for driving on a suspended or revoked license. The charge is being dismissed.

Ray Quintero faced his eighth charge or driving on a suspended or revoked license. It was also dismissed.

Randy Stevens faced his 12th charge for driving on a suspended or revoked license. He was sentenced to two days in jail.

"I understand many people's frustrations, that some folks continue to drive when they don't have a license," Funk said. "That's why in some situations, if it's someone who was driving without a good reason, someone who violated this offense on a number of times, then we do, on occasion, ask for a weekend in jail."

In January, Stephanie Ferguson, a woman with 14 prior cases of driving on a revoked or suspended license, wrecked her car on Jefferson Street on the way back from traffic court. Two men in the car she hit were killed.

Last year, state records show there were 179 fatal crashes in Tennessee involving unlicensed drivers.

"That's a two-ton death machine they are driving without a license," Dyer said.

Dyer said she is afraid the man who hit her and left the scene is going to kill someone someday. Since he hit her last year, he's been arrested two more times for driving on a revoked license.

"Someone could have been killed," Dyer said. "And he didn't even stop to check. That was my child. That was my whole reason for living in the car with me and my grandmother. And he didn't even stop to check. And he gets to just keep on. I don't know what the answer is. I know it's not two days in jail."

"Two days in jail is still a significant punishment," Funk said.

Funk's office said there are some people who won't get this. People who are on probation for a DUI are not eligible.

Copyright 2015 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • Many arrested for unlicensed driving see charges dismissedMore>>

  • Recent HeadlinesMore>>

  • Police arrest suspected gunman for Oct 6 murder

    Police arrest suspected gunman for Oct 6 murder

    Sunday, October 22 2017 11:19 PM EDT2017-10-23 03:19:09 GMT
    Danny Haskins (MNPD)Danny Haskins (MNPD)

    Dyersburg Police have arrested Danny Haskins, 57, the murder suspect for the fatal shooting that occurred October 6 outside the Marathon gas station on John A. Merritt Blvd. He was taken into custody Sunday evening. Metro Police said he will be moved to Nashville in the near future.

    More >>

    Dyersburg Police have arrested Danny Haskins, 57, the murder suspect for the fatal shooting that occurred October 6 outside the Marathon gas station on John A. Merritt Blvd. He was taken into custody Sunday evening. Metro Police said he will be moved to Nashville in the near future.

    More >>
  • Davidson County Lieutenant arrested for aggravated assault

    Davidson County Lieutenant arrested for aggravated assault

    Sunday, October 22 2017 10:11 PM EDT2017-10-23 02:11:21 GMT
    (WSMV)(WSMV)

    Derrick Gleaves, a lieutenant with the Davidson County Sheriff's Office, was arrested Friday for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. According to the affidavit, which you can read here (warning: the affidavit contains language that may be offensive to some), Gleaves followed a male mechanic who was dropping off a car to Gleaves' wife at her place of employment.

    More >>

    Derrick Gleaves, a lieutenant with the Davidson County Sheriff's Office, was arrested Friday for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. According to the affidavit, which you can read here (warning: the affidavit contains language that may be offensive to some), Gleaves followed a male mechanic who was dropping off a car to Gleaves' wife at her place of employment.

    More >>
  • TDOC checks sex offender compliance ahead of Halloween

    TDOC checks sex offender compliance ahead of Halloween

    Sunday, October 22 2017 8:35 PM EDT2017-10-23 00:35:14 GMT

    As we approach Halloween, and more families head out into the neighborhoods for trick or treating the Tennessee Department of Corrections is hard at work making sure sex offenders are following rules and restrictions. Joseph Gallina is probation and parole manager for the Davidson County sex offender unit. 

    More >>

    As we approach Halloween, and more families head out into the neighborhoods for trick or treating the Tennessee Department of Corrections is hard at work making sure sex offenders are following rules and restrictions. Joseph Gallina is probation and parole manager for the Davidson County sex offender unit. 

    More >>
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Judge tosses $417M award against Johnson & Johnson

    Judge tosses $417M award against Johnson & Johnson

    Saturday, October 21 2017 5:56 PM EDT2017-10-21 21:56:34 GMT
    In this April 15, 2011, file photo, a bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)In this April 15, 2011, file photo, a bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

    A judge on Friday tossed out a $417 million jury award to a woman who claimed she developed ovarian cancer by using Johnson & Johnson talc-based baby powder for feminine hygiene.

    More >>

    A judge on Friday tossed out a $417 million jury award to a woman who claimed she developed ovarian cancer by using Johnson & Johnson talc-based baby powder for feminine hygiene.

    More >>
  • Mom charged in 2016 death of 6-month-old son

    Mom charged in 2016 death of 6-month-old son

    Thursday, October 19 2017 2:14 PM EDT2017-10-19 18:14:08 GMT

    The mother of a six-month-old boy was indicted on a charge of felony murder, according to a news release.

    More >>

    The mother of a six-month-old boy was indicted on a charge of felony murder, according to a news release.

    More >>
  • FBI couldn't access nearly 7K devices because of encryption

    FBI couldn't access nearly 7K devices because of encryption

    Sunday, October 22 2017 6:36 PM EDT2017-10-22 22:36:07 GMT
    (AP/Meredith Image)(AP/Meredith Image)

    The FBI hasn't been able to retrieve data from more than half of the mobile devices it tried to access in less than a year, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Sunday, turning up the heat on a debate between technology companies and law enforcement officials trying to recover encrypted communications. 

    More >>

    The FBI hasn't been able to retrieve data from more than half of the mobile devices it tried to access in less than a year, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Sunday, turning up the heat on a debate between technology companies and law enforcement officials trying to recover encrypted communications. 

    More >>
Powered by Frankly
WSMV
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2017, WSMV; Nashville, TN. (A Meredith Corporation Station) . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.