Police Cracking Down on Unlicensed Drivers

ByABC News via logo
November 13, 2003, 11:35 AM

L O N G  B E A C H, Calif., Nov. 15 -- Though Robert Aragon pleaded not guilty to driving without a license, a judge still forbade him from driving his car.

But when an ABCNEWS hidden camera followed Aragon leaving the Long Beach, Calif., courtroom, he wasn't walking home or catching a bus. He was walking to his car three blocks away. The hidden camera caught him pulling out of his parking space.

Of the roughly 40,000 fatal car crashes each year, 20 percent involve a driver without a valid driver's license, according to a study conducted for the American Automobile Association (AAA).

That's about 8,000 drivers who should not have been on the road involved in fatal crashes, and police are taking measures to bring that number down.

Stung, on Camera

In Aragon's case, ABCNEWS wasn't alone in following him. Long Beach Police pulled him over as part of a sting operation.

"Sir, what was I being pulled over for?" Aragon asked.

"Driving with a suspended license," the officer said.

"Well, how did you know that?" Aragon said.

"We had people following you," the policeman answered.

According to police, such sting operations are one of the effective ways to keep unlicensed drivers off the streets something they are determined to do because of the potential consequences.

"Unlicensed drivers cause more damage than, and take more lives than, any classification of driver," Long Beach Police Sgt. David Cannan said.

It Cant Be, It Cant Be

William Yates, known by family and friends as Tony, was riding with his son Jeff in Pompano Beach, Fla., when he was fatally struck by the SUV driven by Timothy Bacon, who was operating with a suspended license.

"What's the worst thing somebody can tell you?" Jeff Yates said. "Your dad just died in a car accident that you two were in. It was horrible and the next worst thing is you have to tell your mom."

"You don't believe it," said Jane Yates, Tony's widow. "It just can't happen like this. You say, 'It can't be. It can't be.' "