Suspect in Massachusetts fatal hit-and-run had record, Part 2

We are currently discussing the Taunton, Massachusetts, man who was arrested and charged in connection with the hit-and-run accident that took the life of a 17-year-old skateboarder last week, and whether or not he should have been driving in the first place.

After hearing the long list of driving offenses the suspect has on his record, it is scary to think that drivers as dangerous as this are being allowed on the roads. However, this tragic accident has potential to spark a change in laws that would allow the Registry of Motor Vehicles to go after repeat offenders more aggressively.

Several state lawmakers have already expressed anger over the fact that the suspect was still allowed to drive after having his license temporarily taken away 16 times.

“The fact that this person was driving at all is beyond outrageous, and it’s obviously had tragic consequences,” the Senate Minority Leader told reporters. “The registrar needs to provide answers as to why this individual was driving with a record like the one he has. It would seem to me we may well need to strengthen the law in this area.”

According to the registrar, the suspect had been dealt with in the past in compliance with the law.

“To the extent that the RMV could sanction him, we did so in every instance,” the Registrar of Motor Vehicles told reporters.

Reportedly, under state law, permanent revocation of driver’s licenses only applies in a select few circumstances, including: a fifth OUI conviction; refusal of a chemical test after three OUI convictions; a second motor-vehicle homicide conviction or a conviction of OUI-related vehicular homicide with a prior drunken-driving conviction.

So far, the suspect has not been charged with any of the qualifying offenses, and even if he is found guilty in the hit-and-run case, he could still get his license back.

The registrar said that she is open to talking with legislatures about changing the policy.

“It is a matter for the Legislature to decide whether the law should be changed,” she told reporters. “We are at the ready to have a conversation with members of the Legislature for whom it is their role and responsibility to debate policy of this nature.”

What do you think? Should drivers with this many citations and suspensions be allowed to drive in Massachusetts?

Primary Source: Boston Herald, “‘Outrageous’ law could let hit-run suspect drive again,” John Zaremba and Chris Cassidy, Aug. 10, 2011. Secondary Source: Boston Herald, “Prosecutor: accused hit-and-run driver’s record ‘one of the worst I’ve seen.'” Marie Szaniszlo, Aug. 8, 2011.