Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

A ‘habitual’ traffic offender and driving as an ‘inalienable right’

Posted by on March 18th, 2011 at 9:35 am

With so many links and stories coming across my desk, sometimes they make for interesting juxtapositions. Take the two stories I woke up to today: a state legislator in Georgia who wants to abolish driver’s licenses and a suspect in a fatal hit and run in Portland Wednesday who was found to be a “habitual” traffic violation offender.

First up is Georgia state legislator Bobby Franklin. Franklin thinks driver’s licenses impinge on people’s freedom so he’s proposed a bill to stop the state from issuing them. Here’s what Franklin told CBS News during an interview (taken from Talking Points Memo):

“Free people have a common law and constitutional right to travel on the roads and highways that are provided by their government for that purpose,” Franklin’s legislation states. “Licensing of drivers cannot be required of free people, because taking on the restrictions of a license requires the surrender of an inalienable right.””

While you’re thinking about that, consider the tragedy that occurred in Northeast Portland Wednesday night. Lori Noelle Kerr was trying to walk across Sandy Blvd at NE 91st when she was struck and killed by a man driving a minivan. The man fled the scene and was later apprehended by police and was booked on manslaughter charges.

This morning, KGW reported that the suspect was a “habitual offender”:

“A background check conducted by KGW confirmed that just in the last year alone, Arrell was cited for driving with a suspended license on Jan. 10, failure to carry proof of insurance on Jan. 18, and driving with a suspended license on Jan. 24. On Feb. 1, Arrell was cited for failure to obey a traffic device, driving uninsured and open container. He was later convicted on all counts.”

The fact that Mr. Arrell was still driving should be of grave concern to everyone who cares about road safety.

This session in Salem, we’ve reported on legislators who say they’re concerned about road safety. Their remedies have included banning the use of headphones by people riding bikes, requiring a safety standards label on bike trailers, and even banning children six and under from being carried or towed on a bike at all.

When you combine a culture that sees driving as a right and not a privilege, with politicians who seem reluctant to take on real traffic safety reform, you are left with a gap. That gap between how safe our roads are and how safe they should be is where we should focus all of our attention.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you.

  • peejay March 18, 2011 at 9:55 am

    I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m living in the wrong country.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • ron March 18, 2011 at 10:41 am

      Peejay- Same here. Maybe this goober will decide that requiring a license to practice medicine is an infringement of constitutrional rights as well. Of course, I am sure he is not in favor or healthcare being considered a right….ay yi yi.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • q`Tzal March 18, 2011 at 1:05 pm

        “First the mad scientist can’t get a doomsday device, next it’s the mad grad student! Where will it end?”

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • cold worker March 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm

      cascadia succession, peejay. i’m positive the northwest would be better off.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Michweek March 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm

        I’m with you! Succession! I’m probably on the FBI’s black list now… *sigh* What do I care, I want to life in a just society and will go to prison for painting crosswalks on the street if I have too!!

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Alan 1.0 March 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm

          Y’all sure you mean succession? That’s the process in which changes follow changes until a more stable system is reached. I’m thinking you mean secession, which is what the Confederate States of America did in 1861.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • El Biciclero March 18, 2011 at 2:43 pm

            Thank you, Alan.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Jeff March 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm

            at least someone can spell.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

      • S March 19, 2011 at 1:45 pm


        (which i am all for btw…)

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • expat March 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm

      I came to the same conclusion decades ago. I moved out, changed countries, learned a new language. I still cycle, but no car driver has shouted at me or tried to cut me out in 38 years now. There are civilized people on this planet. It takes a bit of effort to find them.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Bjorn March 18, 2011 at 9:55 am

    One issue I think we have in Oregon right now is that we don’t suspend drivers licenses only for bad driving. I have been told that somewhere around half of the suspended drivers in Oregon are suspended due to failure to pay child support. While deadbeat dads are a problem the fact that driving while suspended doesn’t necessarily mean driving after being identified as a really bad driver makes it harder to increase the penalties against those who do it.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • rigormrtis March 18, 2011 at 10:10 am

      Surely there are some deadbeat wives out there.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • matt picio March 18, 2011 at 10:31 am

        I think you mean “deadbeat moms” – typically if they’re paying child support there’s already been a divorce, if there was a marriage in the first place.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • matt picio March 18, 2011 at 10:33 am

      Bjorn – that’s an issue for sure, and a related one is that Oregon does nothing to prevent the offense – confiscation of the automobile for repeat offenses of driving while suspended would help on multiple levels. (and cause additional problems as well, I’m sure)

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Bjorn March 18, 2011 at 11:59 am

        Hey Matt,

        I don’t know the specifics of the cases but from what I have heard from lawyer friends recently rulings have come down that say taking the car is/may be unconstitutional. I think that is at the federal level unfortunately… That attitude kind of goes directly to the point of Jonathan’s story, but it is an attitude that currently does exist.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Alan 1.0 March 18, 2011 at 12:54 pm

        matt picio
        …confiscation of the automobile for repeat offenses of driving while suspended would help on multiple levels.

        That’s a discussion which really could use greenlicking. Proposed: Upon suspension of driver’s license, all motor vehicles registered in driver’s name shall be impounded. Any motor vehicle found to be operated by a driver with suspended license shall be impounded until the vehicle’s owner agrees to a notarized affidavit that the vehicle was stolen from them (operated without their permission), leaving driver subject to felony theft charges.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • wsbob March 18, 2011 at 1:13 pm

          “…Proposed: Upon suspension of driver’s license, all motor vehicles registered in driver’s name shall be impounded. …” Alan 1.0

          So you say “…all…”? In cases where there are other family members dependent on use of the car, that would be an unfair penalization of those family members.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Alan 1.0 March 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm

            Family members should be aware of the menace in their midst and take care to register their car in their own name.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Duncan March 21, 2011 at 7:37 pm

            as someone who had his driving privilages suspended for too many no seatbelt tickets, I would say that while getting ones license suspended (for 14 days anyway) should not cause a persons vehicles to be impounded- driving while suspended would be a different story. I am sure there are many people like me who simply lock their car up and wait for the suspension to pass/get their license back and should not be penalized.

            Also people have their DL suspended for medical reasons (stroke, siezure etc), as well as the aformentioned child support. Try not to paint to large a brush here. Some one gets labeled a HV driving on suspended or a DUI sure- but get a vehicle impuonded over too man seatbelt tickets is just stupid.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Alan 1.0 March 21, 2011 at 10:56 pm

            Sheesh, yeah, I am surprised that seatbelt tickets can cause a suspended license. (But WTF don’t you just wear a seatbelt??)

            Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dude March 18, 2011 at 9:58 am

    I hope conservatives keep talking about the constitutional right to travel on the roads, because then they cannot argue that there is a legal basis for restricting use of bicycles to travel on those same roads.

    Jonathan, you should do a follow-up on the constitutional and common law rights to travel for us legal wonks, especially given the right/privilege distinction you raise and the importance of that distinction for understanding the foundations of use of the roads by people who choose various modes of travel.

    These legal rights are not generally well-understood and you (and others) sometimes seem to think of them as “technicalities,” but they’re really the basis for restricting or expanding use of the roads.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • peejay March 18, 2011 at 10:06 am

      Exactly. We have a right to the road, and a privilege to use a potentially deadly machine on that road.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • rigormrtis March 18, 2011 at 10:12 am

        I think they could make the argument that cars legally have a right to be on roads, and that bikes legally have a right to be on bike paths…….

        just go ahead and find funding for the bike paths, now.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • matt picio March 18, 2011 at 10:35 am

          Yes, but a counter-argument could be made that since we all have a right to travel on public byways, parallel transportation infrastructure must be provided if bikes are restricted from the roadway.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • q`Tzal March 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm

            From which the logical conclusion will be that, due to the lack of funds and overall impracticality of building separate travel ways for every mode, society can only really afford one road.

            Constitutionally we all pay for the road system and we all have a right to use it.
            That use can not be allowed to impinge on others rights to use the road or on other’s basic rights to life and freedom from injury.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Brian E. March 18, 2011 at 11:51 am

      We all have the right to use the road. Unless we are locked up in prison for something. For example, I use the road all the time while riding my bike. Others use the road while riding the bus. And still others use it while riding in their friends car.

      Franklin’s proposal seems to be more about the freedom to use whatever mode of transportation you want.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ross Williams March 18, 2011 at 10:21 am

    The only reason we get away with calling driving a “privilege”is that the standards for having that privilege are so low that almost anyone can qualify. If we set standards that required people to demonstrate complete knowledge of the current rules of the road and the ability to operate their vehicle safely, we would have a political rebellion. Not to mention an economic crisis.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dude March 18, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Travel — by whatever means — but not driving specifically probably is a right. But what are the limits?

    The State has a duty to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens, and in a country where 40,000+ people are killed each year by “travel,” certainly the State’s duty is relevant to travel and potentially conflicts with the individual right to travel.

    That’s the other part of the legal/policy picture that’s missing from Franklin’s dumb pronouncement about freedom and the right to travel.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Ross Williams March 18, 2011 at 11:16 am

      If there a “right to travel”, what does that mean? In practical terms, you need government id for almost every form of travel other than biking and walking. Not even that “right” to walk and bike is un-restricted since they are banned on many interstate highways.

      The other question is whether licensing actually increases safety. Its apparent that it is now being used to deny the driving “privilege” for reasons unrelated to safety, like whether you have a proper visa to work in this country.

      I don’t really agree with the guy, but he has a point. Driving is treated as a “privilege”only when it suits us to take it away.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Paul Souders March 18, 2011 at 12:08 pm

        “The other question is whether licensing actually increases safety.”

        It does if we actually test for competence to drive, and re-test on a regular schedule.

        Something may have changed in the last 25 years but when I took Driver’s Ed we were told on Day 1: “driving is a privilege, not a right.” In fact, this was on the first page of the (Nebraska) state driver’s manual at that time. My parents used that phrase too, now that I think about it; it was kind of drummed into the whole “learning to drive” process.

        OTOH I haven’t had to re-demonstrate my ability to drive for, oh, 25 years — other than 1 written test 15 years ago. Which is an f-ing farce.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • John Lascurettes March 18, 2011 at 1:43 pm

          I think that if you have had ANY moving violation or reported accident since your last renewal, you should be required to take a driving test before or as part of your next renewal.

          The only arguments against this that hold water are usually economic – but really, by not doing it, aren’t we deferring the cost elsewhere (injuries, police action, etc.).

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Opus the Poet March 19, 2011 at 11:13 am

            Back when I had the money to be able to fly, I had to prove no less often than every 25 months that I was still competent to fly an airplane, including an oral review of regulations that had changed since my last review, and a practical demonstration that I could still handle the airplane in emergency situations. Prior to that I had to pass a written test that took about 2 hours, and show mastery of skills gained in 40 hours of training. Conversely when I still drove a car I only had to prove I could make 4 successive right turns and pass a written test that was mainly about the penalties for driving drunk, and I was never tested again.

            The ironic thing about this is that flying is considered a right, and driving a privilege. I was much more tested and regulated exercising my right to fly than I ever was my privilege to drive.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Barbara March 21, 2011 at 1:45 am

          Not only that, but you probably learned to drive from your parents, who learned it 25 years earlier, who learned it from their parents… In Germany, you take driving lessons in driving school. You are not not allowed to drive a car other than the driving school car until you have done about 30 hours of driving lessons and passed the rigorous driving test. Of course the driving teacher is up to date in laws and the current traffic situation. I remember that it was drummed into me to look over my shoulder when I turned to watch out for bikes and pedestrians.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • NW Biker March 18, 2011 at 10:43 am

    What this juxtaposition points out is that the presence or absence of a driver’s license makes no difference at all to road safety. I’ve frequently heard people wonder how someone could be driving without a license. Revocation of a license doesn’t physically prevent someone from driving. Having one doesn’t mean that the driver is competent, sober, or even paying attention, for that matter. Many years ago, I was driving behind a woman who was merging onto a freeway while reaching behind her to do something with a kid in the back seat–and looking at the kid. I’ll bet she had a license!

    The right v. privilege question is an interesting one. Whether something is a right under the law depends on its enabling legislation or even the state or federal constitution. That’s apart from how it’s considered in the non-legal sense, and I think that distinction is where a lot of the disagreement arises.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • deborah March 18, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Well said! When are they going to point their legislative powers on the perpetrators of most traffic accidents and fatalities instead of blaming the pedestrians and cyclists for being there to be killed or maimed? Get it together Salem! Come on and protect the most vulnerable in our society by enacting laws that make the streets safer!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • pdXO-2 March 18, 2011 at 10:52 am

    It is possible for the DMV to suspend a license for 5 years for things other than a DUII charge. Something like 3 convictions of driving related problems or if you have 20 more traffic violations in a 5 year time span. Still does not address the issue of stopping someone from driving though. No license, no car? No problem. Steal, beg or borrow. Does not seem to be a real solution.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • beth h March 18, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Cars, like guns, are ridiculously easy to obtain in this country. And maybe that’s what deserves the closer look.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Brian E. March 18, 2011 at 12:04 pm

      Beth. Isn’t it tragic that the majority of gun deaths happen to oneself, family, and friends. In that order. Still, we Americans love our guns and argue they are needed for our personal protection.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • lothar March 20, 2011 at 2:38 pm

      I understand the sentiment but you are comparing apples and shovels. Guns, when used for their intended purpose, are meant to kill and they are no good for anything else. I guess following your logic I could say that baseball bats and kitchen knives are ridiculously easy to obtain.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • dennis March 18, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    The federal constitution provides for “Freedom of movement” on public rights of way. This is to prevent such restrictions across state lines, or municipalities.

    However, it does not provide for “Freedom of conveyance”. Freedom of Conveyance, is completely different. If Driver’s licenses were to be abolished, so would vehicle licensing. That means, that vehicle safety, vehicle nuisance, and pollution controls would become moot. You could literally slap wheels on an engine of any type, and it would become a legal vehicle. Rocket-car anyone?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • El Biciclero March 18, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    If we could solve this one problem–bad drivers off the road for good–man, what a coup. Unfortunately it is nearly impossible, thanks to the fact that we have gradually, but nearly completely structured society so that almost everyone depends on having a particular “privilege” to survive. That structure seems to have come about and is sustained by corrupt politics, consumerism/marketing, and an economy based on buy, buy, buy, not make & sell. Oh, and just about everyone’s need/desire for–or inability to see through–all of the above.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jack March 18, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    From the article:

    “He has also sought to abolish the State Road and Tollway Authority, the Department of Health and Human Services and any social services Georgia provides.

    In one bill that reads as his philosophical statement on the roots of government, Franklin laments the fall of religious and family authority. The bill — called the “Life, Liberty, and Property Restoration Act” — begins by acknowledging the existence of “an almighty, everlasting, creator God, the God of the Bible, the only God there is.” The bill then notes that God created “four, not one spheres of government”: self-government, family government, church government, and finally “the fourth, and least” — civil government.”

    Oh. That explains a lot.

    Maybe instead of the NW succeeding from the union, we should give the fundamentalist Christians a southern state and let them “succeed”.

    Then, 10 years down the road we can see which country’s population hasn’t died off from some entirely treatable disease.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jack March 18, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Also noteworthy from the article:

    Franklin also proposed a “Freedom of Choice and Security Act,” guaranteeing the right of all people to potentially inflict violence on others. “The mere potential to deprive someone of life, liberty, or property should never be considered a crime in a free and just society,”

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jim Lee March 18, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    As a former practicing rocket scientist I demand the “unalienable” right for deadbeat moms to speed rocket cars through school zones while yacking on cellphones and petting poodles in their laps.

    Please note that hydrogen-fluorine has the highest specific impulse among combinations of propellants, and also has the advantage of leaving an exhaust gas of hydrofluoric acid. Hydrogen-oxygen is next best, but it leaves only water.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Psyfalcon March 18, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      I’m going to have to push on the H&O thing. I believe we do not have an unalienable right to manufacture HF in the roadways. It would eat the roads, and then we’d have to be illegally taxed to fix them.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob March 18, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Georgia state legislator Bobby Franklin seems to operate on principles associated with from the Oregon State Representative Mitch Greenlick ‘School of Legislative Action’. In other words, propose absurd laws to open up conversation on important issues. Click on the link above to the TPMMuckraker article for some examples of Franklin’s other nutty bill ideas.

    Despite this about his character, underlying the craziness of his ‘no drivers license’ bill, Franklin’s got a valid point that many bike, pedestrian, livability advocates, and increasingly more people in general agree with: that domination of roadways by motor vehicles has to the point where many people effectively are precluded by having free and accessible access to the roadways.

    About the other story having to do with habitual offender Aaron Arrel, driving without a license: I think he represents just the tip of an iceberg. Besides fear of citations, fines and imprisonment, using the public way appropriately and honorably arises from a sense of morality that many people either don’t have, or have little intention of adhering to.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Dave Thomson March 18, 2011 at 4:47 pm

      There seems to be an increasing tendency by Bike Portland posters to vilify Oregon legislators that support any legislation that they disagree with. From a practical point of view I suggest you think about whether that legislator may possibly support something you do want in the future before you start trashing them here or anywhere else. This doesn’t mean don’t disagree with their proposal, it means don’t attack them personally. In this case Rep Greenlick is a Democrat who would generally be considered a potential ally of ours on issues such as bike infrastructure funding and transportation equity. To put it a little more bluntly I suggest you find a way to express your ideas without pissing upstream from where we get our water.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • wsbob March 18, 2011 at 5:43 pm

        I was just poking a little fun at Greenlick. No harm intended. If you check some of my comments to bikeportland stories about some recent bills Greenlick sponsored, you’ll find my comments are among the relative few comments to those stories, that support the basic objective he sought with those bills.

        Still, through the text and content of the bills he proposed, I think he could have done a better job in getting to the heart of the matter he was after. Instead, he, and to a much greater extent, this Georgia state legislator Bobby Franklin seem to go for a much more highly controversial approach…I suppose to get people’s attention, since apparently it takes that approach to get some people to pay any attention whatsoever to what their elected officials are doing.

        So many people seem to not know diddly about what’s involved in getting a bill though the legislature, or even have the slightest interest in learning. So some legislators figure out they’ve got to resort to the measures Franklin and Greenlick have used to wake people up. I’m just glad Franklin isn’t here in Oregon, doing his little comedy act.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • alex March 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    we still lack a vehicular manslaughter/homicide law in oregon…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Michael M. March 18, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    A lot of the problem with drivers’ licenses is one of mission creep. Licenses are the default form of identification, and as others have noted, can be withheld for a variety of reasons having nothing to do with the operation of a motor vehicle. Likewise, one’s driving record is often taken as a signal of reliability, like credit checks. More and more job postings for jobs that don’t require any sort of regular or semi-regular driving are still insisting that applicants have a license and “clean driving record.” I expect this will get worse in Oregon now that most companies have been prohibited by the legislature from doing credit checks on prospective employees.

    And so as the mission creeps, a license becomes a less and less useful tool for doing what it was originally intended to do: assure some degree of competency behind the wheel. It becomes both easier and, in many cases, necessary for someone to drive without a license as we stretch the purposes a license is supposed to serve. Withholding licenses from undocumented immigrants is an example of why.

    I think before we can begin to fix the problem of why people in situations like Mr. Arrell’s are behind the wheel, we have to decide just what we want a license to be used for and what it shouldn’t be used for. Until we figure that out, nothing’s going to change.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • wsbob March 18, 2011 at 1:51 pm

      What you describe as ‘mission creep’ can be a problem, but probably the bigger problem with enabling the ability of a driver’s license to promote greater motor vehicle operator competency, and better behavior behind the wheel, is that the public’s probably not going to be enthusiastic to pay for what would be involved in doing so.

      Sit down and try to list some of the things that would be required to improve the caliber of drivers that are on the road today, filtering out and preventing the worst from driving until such time as they get better…raising the competency of drivers currently on the road and ones that soon will seeking to be drivers. Any realistic list probably will include things that would involve lots more testing, more regularly. So it becomes a legitimate question of how to make such things logistically possible on a realistic, achievable scale.

      I suppose a plan could be devised and proposed, where people could be obliged to undergo a full battery of personal driver skill and ability testing, each time they have to go and get their vehicle qualified for proper functioning by the DEQ. Just think about an idea like that for a second; how much money it would take to operate it…how much of people’s time it take to staff and go through the process.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Todd Boulanger March 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    In reading the KGW report (thanks KGW for doing background reporting) it is interesting to note that the responding police officers may have missed ticketing him for driving without a license on several incidences…did they fail to look up his driving record or just give him a verbal warning?! (Who knows if he has been a similar roadway hazard in other neighboring states?)

    I wonder if there is any case law that would tie the state (or local jurisdiction) to partial fault and monetary damages to the victim for failure of removing a driver who is a recognized “habitual offender” from our public roadways? (Does this rise to a class action status yet?)

    Perhaps then would legislators, local police departments and judges would begin to more effectively to protect vulnerable road users and work towards a true “vision zero” for crashes and injuries.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • El Biciclero March 18, 2011 at 3:38 pm

      While not stating it outright, I think you allude to the “wink, wink” attitude many laws and law enforcers have toward driving offenses/offenders. It would be interesting if there were some way to “enforce enforcement”, not letting drivers with suspended/revoked licenses–or just horrible records–get away with so much due to light penalties or lackadaisical enforcement. Unfortunately, since the majority of people out there are drivers, and know how hard life would be without a car, reckless/incompetent/raging drivers are not seen as a big problem.

      I would love to see:

      Driver’s licenses used only in the context of operating a motor vehicle. No driving record “points” for bicycle infractions, no suspensions for failure to pay child support (tell me how that makes any sense!), only used as relates to driving.

      Driver’s licenses be much harder to get and maintain. Require driver’s ed. Make the written test harder or the passing score higher. Mandate re-testing at least every 8 years. Make reinstatement of a suspended license a rigorous and expensive process. Etc.

      Some version of Alan 1.0’s idea go into effect.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • kl March 18, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    In response to the Georgia state legislator story:

    Stories like this expose the main self-delusion point of pinheads like this. They don’t stop to think for one second ‘why is this law here in the first place?’

    These idiots don’t realize that the laws were often put in to place in response to a real (or perceived) problem.

    Why is there a law that you can’t run a red light? Because (more than once) some idiot did so, with disastrous consequences to the innocent. Why is there now a law against yakking on your cell phone? Because people proved themselves unable to handle the responsibility of paying attention to the road while chatting, therefore that privilege was rescinded.

    The scary thing is that this individual is trusted with the authority to create laws.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • A police officer who stumbled into this blog... March 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Interesting points of view. I think most people would agree DLs aren’t “unconstitutional”, and the Georgia legislator is probably fringe, at best. As far as Oregon is concerned, we have a problem. ORS 809.720, which allows towing and impounding vehicles in certain situations, has essentially been killed by current case law handed down by judges and courts without common sense.

    Some agencies are still towing, but most (including mine) have stopped barring extreme traffic hazards. There are also several levels of suspensions; violation, misdemeanor, and felony. The vast majority of DWS drivers are violation suspended, which means they get nothing more than an expensive traffic citation which often goes unpaid and uncollected. DWS only becomes a crime if DUII, reckless driving, or assault/manslaughter committed w/ a vehicle is involved.

    As previously mentioned, DLs are suspended for various other reasons; non payment of child support, failing to appear in court, etc…

    The one exception is if you receive an obscene amount of moving violations/DWS cites in a set period of time (usually five years), you can be permanently misdemeanor revoked as a “habitual offender”. At last check, it is about 20 cites needed to reach this plateau of incompetence.

    With the current written and case law in Oregon, suspended drivers are getting the upper hand. The best way to stop them is to impound their vehicle once they are caught. Until this occurs again, and I think it will, Oregon roads will remain heavily populated with irresponsible traffic violators/criminals. Be careful out there.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • wsbob March 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm

      It seems to me that for a lot of people, the threat of losing what can be an essential and expensive piece of property…a vehicle, can be a significant deterrent. What percent of offenders that represents…I wonder about. I remember reading in past Oregonian stories, about DWS offenders that were so habitual, that after losing their vehicle, they’d just run out and buy another clunker for $200-$300 …or whatever…and just go right on driving. Hopefully, those types of people are very few in number.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • S brockway March 18, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    It seems that a huge part of this Habitual offender problem lies with the Portland police dept.’s low
    priority attitude about this matter.From personal experience I know of a well known person of the Portland cycling scene (even highlighted on BikePortland several times) who has been driving
    Ore. and Wash. for well over 10 years with, No license,No insurance,while on the phone,with a car load of kids(that are not his),lives within one block of a school zone, and the list goes on.He has been pulled
    over many times ( more than 8 ) yet still has his car,and still drives.This has been brought to PPD’s
    attention many times. I had been told by officers
    that if he gets pulled over,the car gets towed.When I
    told them he has been pulled over an “ticketed” many
    times recently and that has not happened I was told by one officer ” So your calling me a liar now” and “Shown the Way out” of the precinct by 3 cops with club out and hand on weapons.So I guess I have a better understanding why this guy is not to concerned
    about Valid license and insurance, as it seems you don’t need one in this area and enforcement is not
    a priority.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • wsbob March 18, 2011 at 3:20 pm

      “…From personal experience I know of a well known person of the Portland cycling scene (even highlighted on BikePortland several times) who has been driving
      Ore. and Wash. for well over 10 years with, No license,No insurance,while on the phone,with a car load of kids(that are not his),lives within one block of a school zone, and the list goes on.He has been pulled
      over many times ( more than 8 ) yet still has his car,and still drives.This has been brought to PPD’s
      attention many times. …” S brockway

      For real? You’re not just trying to spoof people here? If not, then name the person, or see if you can get bikeportland’s editor and publisher Jonathan Maus, interested in your claim, enough to check it out and publish a story about it.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Jimbo March 18, 2011 at 7:07 pm

        Ya, would there not be some lobby video of this??

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • S brockway March 19, 2011 at 4:17 am

          One would think so, since there are signs on the wall that indicate video is being taken.
          When I called back (by phone) to inquire about
          the treatment received while there,I asked for the video to be reviewed. Was told, quote” I don’t think there is a video in the lobby, just outside”. what do you think??

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • wsbob March 19, 2011 at 10:34 am

            Oh…I see. You’re referring to the part of your story where you say the cops give you the bum’s rush in response to your telling them about the “…well known person of the Portland cycling scene (even highlighted on BikePortland several times) who has been driving
            Ore. and Wash. for well over 10 years with, No license,No insurance,while on the phone,with a car load of kids(that are not his),lives within one block of a school zone, and the list goes on.He has been pulled
            over many times ( more than 8 ) yet still has his car,and still drives. …”.

            While not disputing your claim that you got that treatment from the cops…hate to say it, but your connecting that claim with the story of the unnamed person of the Portland cycling scene driving without a license doesn’t do wonders for holding up credibility of your allegation regarding the unnamed person with the Portland cycling scene driving without a license, etc. etc. .

            Put the details about the guy driving without a license in front of Maus, or Mirk, as peejay suggested. If you’ve got anything credible that can be confirmed somehow, they should be able to figure that out. If that story pans out, maybe you can again take up the issue of the treatment you say you got from the cops, and maybe get a better idea of why it happened…assuming of course, that you’re on the level.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

    • peejay March 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm

      You would also do well to get the Portland Mercury involved. I see this as a nice little Sarah Mirk story about both the habitual offender and the PPB precinct in question.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Another Doug March 18, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    I have to say that I’m somewhat sympathetic to the idea of eliminating of drivers license requirements, although not for the same reasons as the Georgia legislator. For those who don’t bother to go to court or pay fines, the penalty for driving suspended is another suspension of the drivers license–which many people just ignore as they continue to accumulate unpaid fines and suspensions. So, the only people with drivers licenses are those who willingly comply with the law and who take their responsibility to act with due care seriously. They are not the drivers who we need to be concerned about.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • S brockway March 18, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    No spoofing going on here, 100% real.I think it’s a great idea if Jonathan Maus wants “check it out” and I
    would be happy to provide him with details ect..

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • wsbob March 18, 2011 at 3:56 pm

      Sounds good. Send him a news tip if you like. I don’t seem to be able to make some of the html functions for posting, but the contact info, including email link, is in the right sidebar just below the Google search box:

      News Tip? call
      (503) 706-8804 or
      Email us

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Joe March 18, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    This “” is spot on When you combine a culture that sees driving as a right and not a privilege, with politicians who seem reluctant to take on real traffic safety reform, you are left with a gap. That gap between how safe our roads are and how safe they should be is where we should focus all of our attention.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Joe Rowe March 18, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Get back to work Salem. To do list: a) crack down on frequent auto offenders b) single payer heath care in Oregon c) cut the managers in state offices, so many people just watching the people who work d) pass laws to save our food systems, and cut toxins like plastic bags

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Alain March 19, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Safe and affordable transportation is actually a human rights issue, and automobiles will never be safe or affordable. For example, look at the average cost of a car (not including the vast infa-structure required to transport the car) and the number of drivers and cyclists/pedestrians killed every year in traffic “accidents”. While conservatives might consider driving a “inalienable right”, liberals consider it a “necessary evil”. Both sides see the presence of automobiles as inevitable, and needing to be accommodated, or in some cases further expanded. Case in point, the CRC’s ten lanes will likely mean widening the road further south and north of the bridge which will further erode the quality of life of those who live near this corridor.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Al from PA March 20, 2011 at 5:20 am

    I dunno–

    From an anarchist viewpoint, which also might ultimately be a “safe and complete streets” viewpoint, one could posit the following changes:

    1. As the gentleman from Georgia says, do away with all driving licenses and regulation;

    2. As in smaller towns in the Netherlands, remove all traffic signs, stop lights, etc., for real traffic calming;

    3. End *all* subsidies of petroleum products, economic, military, whatever, thus eliminating external costs and allowing the price of a gallon of gas to reflect its true cost, ie, $11-15 (at least);

    4. End all direct or indirect subsidies of the oil, automobile, rubber, etc. industries. This means eliminating tax breaks, subsidies to rescue companies from bankruptcy, zoning regulations that favor automobile based transport at the expense of other methods, etc.

    5. End all road and highway subsidies on the federal and state levels that are not paid for directly and completely by taxes on motorized vehicles and fossil fuel products;

    6. End all new bridge and freeway construction proposals, at least for bridges and freeways whose total construction and operating costs cannot be *directly* and completely paid for by their users (ie, tolls).

    Now *that’s* deregulation, and I hardly think the automobile and its attendant “lifestyle” would come out the winners.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • adamdoug2011 March 20, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    its not the laws in portland that are teh suck, its the politicians, the self denying drunks and the PPB. If I return, it will be with full authority and full vengence. The city towed my car and the sheriff is accusing me of things I did not do. Someone, who gives a crap about portland might wanna run for office.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Seth D. Alford March 20, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Greenlick was mentioned in this morning’s _Oregonian_ in the article about “Nanny” bills piling up at the Oregon legislature. See http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2011/03/nanny_bills_pile_up_at_oregon.html

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • wsbob March 21, 2011 at 1:06 am

      The writer of that Oregonian story, Harry Esteve, seems to not have been able to resist relying on: “… Steve Buckstein, director of the libertarian-leaning Cascade Policy Institute, says bills such as those do more to impinge on personal freedom than protect society.

      “They think of us as their children and they know how to run our lives better than we do,” Buckstein says. “Not that it makes them bad people. But we’re adults and we can make our own choices and take the consequences.” …” (end quote) , as a reference. Remember a couple years ago when another Oregonian writer…Joseph Rose…relied on CPI as a source for one of his stories, and got resoundingly trounced for it here on bikeportland?

      I’m interested in reading more about how Greenlick comes to actually write or sponsor the type of what seems to be calculatedly controversial bill proposals mentioned in the O story as having been his work. Is this a solo effort on his part? Or is it a team effort? I commend his efforts to press worthy discussion on important issues, but some of his bill ideas sound more like the product of having woke up in the middle of the night due to a glass of bad milk. If he could somehow assemble his bills in a way that was more directly designed to take on the problems his bills dance around, he might avoid being a laughingstock.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Kt March 21, 2011 at 9:45 am

    A couple of thoughts:

    One: Police officer who stumbled upon this blog: Thank you for your comment and your insight.

    Two: The Georgia politician says that the right to travel on roads is an inalienable, constitutionally provided right– not the right to drive on those roads. I don’t agree with his bills; I think he is saying that the requirement to have a driver’s license discriminates against people using motor vehicles to use the roads– which impinges on their right to travel the roads in whatever manner they see fit.

    Three: I read the article when it came out on KGW. And I have to say that I’m appalled that someone with that long of a record is still able to drive around. And that he killed someone, and that there doesn’t seem to be anything that can be done to stop people like him. I’m disheartened with the state of drivers in Oregon these days– I wish the Oregon legislature would turn their attention to fixing that problem, which is a known problem.

    Four: WSBob, I’m willing to bet people won’t get down on Mr. Esteve’s use of CPI as a source because in this instance, what CPI is saying is what a lot of people commenting on this blog are saying.

    And lastly: I hate it when newspaper reporters write a piece that is plainly biased against whatever they are writing about, and it lands on the front page. I could wish that news reporters report on the NEWS and leave the editorializing and opinions to the Opinion section.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • wsbob March 21, 2011 at 11:05 am

      On ‘two’, I think you’ve got the central issue zeroed in. The Georgia politician is confusing the right to travel with what’s to some degree an obligation to use a motor vehicle…in order to travel…given the way the public roadways have been allowed by many people of both modest and immense power, to transmogrify into a means of travel that is so devoted to motor vehicle use.

      This change has gone too far, and that’s what politician Bobby Franklin should be seeking to correct, instead of implying that eliminating driver’s licenses…one of the simplest, least costly means the public has at hand to motivate people to be better drivers…is somehow impinging on fundamental citizen rights.

      On ‘four’: Yes, I think you’re right that many of bikeportland’s readership having commented in response to bikeportland stories about Greenlick’s idiosyncratic bills won’t object to Oregonian writer Esteve’s referencing CPI to fault Greenlick’s effort.

      That is…the people responding that declined to expend any mental effort on helping offer suggestions for modifications to Greenlick’s bills that could possibly have resulted in improvements to safe travel by bike…choosing instead to bleat the tired ‘solution looking for a problem’ refrain.

      Be careful trusting anything CPI has to say.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Duncan March 22, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Alan 1.0
    Sheesh, yeah, I am surprised that seatbelt tickets can cause a suspended license. (But WTF don’t you just wear a seatbelt??)

    well I do now- I am just slow ion the learning curve 🙂

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Duncan March 23, 2011 at 6:57 am

    In NY where I grew up if you drive suspended you go to jail (at least overnight), the car gets impounded and held (if I remember) for 3 weeks. Last time I was in court their for a traffic ticket (granted this was years ago) the guy ahead of me had two. I clearly remember the DA telling him “no matter what the plea bargain you are going to jail”. There was also a felony driving suspended level (fourth offense) that was a year and a half in jail.

    Seems to me it is a matter of will- legislature and the police and the DA make it a priority then it will change. Problem with that dealing with this issue costs money, and right now we are forced to decide between schools and jails. Given that choice I will take schools.

    The whole laize-faire driving attitude that driving is a right ignores the logical outcome- that if the state does not regulate drivers who menace vulnerable road users off the road, that vulnerable road users when threatened should be allowed to defend themselves with an equally deadly weapon. That dystopian reality (watch Mad Max for a glimpse) is not how I want to live.

    Recommended Thumb up 0