Unlicensed senior drivers face penalties

My 89-year-old uncle recently had his drivers license taken away by the DMV. I am almost certain that he has been driving occasionally even though we have told him he absolutely cannot drive.

What would happen if he were stopped for a driving violation? What would happen if he were in an accident?

— Lynne D., Medford

If he were stopped for a violation and found to not have a drivers license, he could be cited for driving without valid driving privileges, which would bear a $287 fine.

He could also have his vehicle impounded and have to pay release fees to the agency and tow company fees to recover his vehicle. Figure about a minimum of $400 to cover both those costs.

In each case I'm saying these could happen to him, not that they would happen to him.

The level of enforcement would be up to the individual officer to determine using his own discretion.

If he were in an accident, then the same two above issues would apply and again be up to the officer's discretion.

If he were determined to be in violation of another law resulting in the accident, say running a stop sign, he could also be cited for that violation.

Beyond that, barring being impaired, if he caused injury to another, then additional penalties would generally move out of the criminal arena and into the area of civil law.

He could be sued for damages to property and/or injury or death to others.

Maybe his insurance, assuming he kept that in force, would balk when they learned he was driving while knowing he was not legally allowed to drive.

There are too many possibilities to list, but suffice it to say it would be best if he didn't drive and expose himself to the liability that may arise.

Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a weekly Q&A column on police issues for the Mail Tribune. Have a question for him? Write to Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501, or email cochradc@jacksoncounty.org.

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