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Judge says driving without a license is No. 1 crime in Youngstown



Published: Mon, September 2, 2013 @ 12:02 a.m.

By STEVE WILAJ

TheNewsOutlet.org

YOUNGSTOWN

Shootings and robberies may snare the most headlines, but it’s the unlicensed and uninsured drivers causing the most headaches, especially for police and judges, city officials said.

“The No. 1 crime in the city of Youngstown is people driving without a license, absolutely without a doubt,” said Judge Elizabeth A. Kobly of Youngstown Municipal Court. It’s a crime she deals with “at least 10 times a day.”

Police Chief Rod Foley calls the problem of unlicensed and uninsured drivers an “epidemic.”

In fact, Ohio is in a five-way tie for seventh place in the nation, with 16 percent of drivers behind the wheel without insurance, according to a 2011 study by the Insurance Research Council, the most-recent year such a study was undertaken.

Joining Ohio are Indiana, Washington, Arkansas and Georgia.

And, to add the financial costs of driving, the cost of auto insurance in Ohio will increase substantially before the end of this year.

Ohio requires drivers to have minimum liability coverage of $12,500 for injury and death for one person; $25,000 for two or more people; and $7,500 for property damage.

Starting Dec. 22, however, those minimums increase to $25,000, $50,000 and $25,000, respectively.

“If people driving couldn’t afford [auto] insurance before, it’s going to get worse,” said Timothy Cearfoss of Youngstown, an agent with American Family Insurance.

Cearfoss estimates that as many as 45 percent of Youngstown’s drivers are without a license, insurance or both.

The average cost of drivers’ insurance should rise proportionally to the liability coverage increases — by about 20 percent to 25 percent, Cearfoss said.

He also said the changes are a positive start because of the naturally higher costs of vehicles since the current rates were set 44 years ago.

Both Cearfoss and Judge Kobly, however, say there is a negative impact.

“If you have to choose between food on the table and [driver’s] insurance, people are going to put food on the table,” Judge Kobly said. “And they’re going to let their insurance lapse, and when the insurance lapses, here we go again. They get caught up in that web.”

The “web” she refers to is when people continue to drive without licenses and insurance even after several convictions.

“We have people in here that are not only convicted of this one time, twice or three times, but we have people that habitually drive without a license, and they get convicted 13, 14, 15 times,” Judge Kobly said. “By then, they owe so much money in reinstatement fees that they can never dig themselves out of that hole, so they keep on driving anyway.”

As a result, accidents involving these drivers put more financial stress on insured drivers.

Ohioans have the option of buying uninsured- motorist coverage, which has an average cost of $40 to $50 per year. This replaces the liability coverage the other drivers don’t possess, Cearfoss said.

“A lot of times, [unlicensed] individuals have pretty serious driving records with previous arrests or driving under suspensions,” Foley said. “So they’re high-risk drivers.”

Since 1953, Ohio has required drivers to carry auto insurance for injuries and property damage. Meanwhile, police are required to check for proof of driver’s insurance at crashes and traffic stops. Those who don’t produce those insurance cards must then show proof of insurance to a court or to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Even with these procedures, Foley said city police officers have struggled to keep unlicensed and uninsured drivers off the road.

“We used to be able to cite people for not having insurance, but they got rid of that law,” Foley said. “Now, we just write on the ticket that they don’t have insurance, and the judges do what they’ve got to do.”

Judge Kobly makes an effort to help unlicensed drivers with her SLIP Court — Suspended License Intervention Program — which she established in 2002.

According to the municipal court website, the program is for people who face jail because of driving without a license.

Participants are screened by the court’s probation department and are given an opportunity to plead guilty and enter the program if eligibility requirements are met.

Charges are dismissed for participants who comply with the program and obtain a driver’s license. Those who fail to obtain a license or commit a new offense while in the program are sentenced on the original offense.

For information on the program, call 330-742-8853.

“There’s so many different ways that you can lose your license, and there’s so much red tape,” Judge Kobly said. “I’ve seen people in here that owe $10,000 in reinstatement fees. So it’s a problem. The more people continue to drive, the deeper that financial hole they’re digging for themselves, and we try to help them through” with SLIP.

As for keeping uninsured motorists and those driving under suspension off the road, Foley and Cearfoss said that will be difficult.

Cearfoss suggested Ohio adopt a system that allows the BMV to check for insurance at the purchase of a license, similar to procedures done in Florida and Texas.

“I don’t know if it’s the answer, but it would be relatively easy for the BMV to enforce,” Cearfoss said. “They do it in other states, and I assume that we should also be able to do it in Ohio.”

Based on the IRC study, Maine has the smallest amount of uninsured drivers at 4.5 percent. When they renew their vehicle registration each year, Maine’s drivers must provide proof of auto insurance.

“I don’t know if there’s any answer to it. I really don’t,” Foley said. “Unless they develop some type of system that your insurance provider would have to notify the state once you drop your coverage that your license is automatically suspended, that’s the only way they could try to do that, but then you’re going to get into privacy issues.”

Whatever the solution, Judge Kobly believes the problem of uninsured and unlicensed drivers in Youngstown will continue to linger because of the city’s economic situation.

“It all comes down to money, unfortunately,” she said. “People live month to month, and they just don’t have the money. So it’s a financial issue for a lot of folks, and that contributes to [the problem] in a big way.”

TheNewsOutlet.org is a collaborative effort among the Youngstown State University journalism program, Kent State University, The University of Akron and professional media outlets including, WYSU-FM Radio and The Vindicator, and The Beacon Journal and Rubber City Radio, both of Akron.


Comments

1greene(167 comments)posted 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Shouldn't the current administration provide car insurance for the citizens? Let's call it Obama-car. Wouldn't you like to see the results of an audit that determines people having to choose between, "food on the table," and car insurance. Who is kidding who?

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2JS(626 comments)posted 11 months, 4 weeks ago

The biggest priority for far too many is drugs and alcohol. When they can't afford a car they then steal one. Those who are poverty stricken in Youngstown have their votes harvested at election time and they are forgotten until the next election. The productive in society continue to get fleeced for the fallout.

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3redvert(2056 comments)posted 11 months, 4 weeks ago

HellaBB, tell me there miss intelligent one, what are you gonna do about the millions of guns already out there that do not have this handy dandy little firing pin lock?

Darn, there is always someone that comes along and poo poos on your brilliance!!!

That was too easy!

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4redvert(2056 comments)posted 11 months, 4 weeks ago

“If you have to choose between food on the table (that would obviously include beer and cigarettes) and [driver’s] insurance, people are going to put "food" on the table,”

Even a $3.00 pack of generic cigarettes or a cheap 6-pac a day times 365 days comes out to $1095 a year. I have full coverage on a $45K truck for less than that. Enough said!

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5city_resident(510 comments)posted 11 months, 4 weeks ago

It's too bad we spend so little on public transportation in Ohio. If public transit was a viable alternative for more people, maybe they wouldn't be forced to choose between food on the table and car insurance?

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6endthismess(307 comments)posted 11 months, 4 weeks ago

redvert....go sit your red neck back down. You are beyond too negative...Mr. Miserable. No star for your forehead today.

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7gdog4766(1466 comments)posted 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Tie everything together thru the state. If a driver allows his insurance to lapse, the carrier notifies the state who then invalidates the registration and the license of that driver. That way cruisers equip with the plate scanners will pick up on it. Driving a car is a privilege not a right. I have been hit twice by uninsured drivers. The one woman who was in her forties and had never had insurance wiped out my car and a pristine 1965 olds show car.

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8handymandave(456 comments)posted 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Foley, I would have thought the more serious crime in Youngstown was the murder rate. You might as well deal with something you have a chance of curbing though. Go get those unlicensed drivers tiger!!!

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9unlicensedtokill(1 comment)posted 11 months, 4 weeks ago

There are two types of unlicensed drivers. Those whose license has been suspended or revoked and those who have never had a license. Those who have never had a license are typically illegal aliens as they cannot get a license in Ohio. Anybody on this thread, or the author, have any idea about the breakdown of these categories? www.unlicensedtokill.org

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10LtMacGowan(641 comments)posted 11 months, 4 weeks ago

No it wouldn't. I know people that continue to drive regardless of the jail time attached. Its a simple matter of not being able to live their lives with out mobility. Not to mention it costs about $60,000 a year to incarcerate one person so the longer the sentence the larger the tax burden.

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11Silence_Dogood(1333 comments)posted 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Every year those that have car's go to the DMV or mail in their payment to renew their plates. I myself always go to the location. Every time I am asked to sign a piece of paper stating that I have insurance, NEVER do they ask for proof. Why is it so hard for them just to ask for PROOF instead signing a piece of paper saying you have insurance. Every time a car gets pulled over the Police ask for proof of registration and insurance,so why can't the DMV do the exact same.If an insurance company drops you or if you fail to keep your insurance the company can notify the state that you are no longer covered, thereby revoking your right to drive.
No proof, no plates it really is that simple, only a Government organization would fail to see the ease in which this problem could go away.
I would expect some liberal group to point out how that simple task of showing proof of insurance would be a racist act, but for the life of me I don't get it.
Maybe Cambridge can explain why it would be racist. Any thoughts on that Cambridge, please enlighten us.

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12photoguy330(14 comments)posted 11 months, 4 weeks ago

So let me get this straight. A JUDGE in YOUNGSTOWN says “The No. 1 crime in the city of Youngstown is people driving without a license, absolutely without a doubt,” and it happens at least 10 times a day.

An INSURANCE AGENT in YOUNGSTOWN estimates 45 percent of drivers have no license and/or no insurance.

The POLICE CHIEF calls driving without a license and/or insurance "an epidemic."

Yet we have OVI checkpoints that have an average rate of return on OVI arrests all summer long rather than a License / Insurance Checkpoints during the day, say like from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.? Clearly there's a serious lack of focus on something that, based on a judge, police chief and insurance agent is CLEARLY a bigger problem than OVI Checkpoints, which don't work:

An OVI checkpoint in Austintown, Ohio, on June 15, 2013, had 588 cars pass through. There were two DUI arrests and six other citations issued. That's a 0.34 rate of return on DUI, and a 1.36% arrest rate for ALL charges. Also on June 15th, there was a DUI checkpoint in Franklin County, north of Columbus, which was conducted by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Hilliard and Dublin police departments. In 2009, Franklin County ranked first in DUI arrests in Ohio, so you'd think a bigger city, bigger area, bigger checkpoint and that history would give significantly greater odds, right?

Wrong.

In a six-hour period, a total of 814 cars went through the checkpoint. There were 332 cars that were checked, 39 that were diverted for issues. A whopping four people were arrested for DUI. Four.

That's a 0.49140049140049 percentage for DUI arrests.

http://drinkupytown.blogspot.com/2013...

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13Freedledee(7 comments)posted 11 months, 4 weeks ago

The low life blood sucking dole takers in this country do not care about following the rules. They park where they want and get tickets they do not pay. They have babies and do not support them, so their drivers license are suspended and they fail to report for court dates on priors. What a society we have let grow. Just watch daytime judge progroms. Their pat answer is to say " I donts needs a drivers license to dribe, Is nos how to dribes a ride" And you need too put another expense before you place food on the table that is being supplied for them. The must pay for the I-Phone and cable TV. Let the working class people pay all the bills. They are sucking the government dry, bogging down the courts with stupid police calls and are taking any handout they are given. I agree with the other guy. They are waiting for Obama to pay their insurance and their license fees.

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14southsidedave(4780 comments)posted 11 months, 4 weeks ago

People will always drive whether they have a license or a car....sad but true

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15endthismess(307 comments)posted 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Ok folks. Send this problem onto "obamafair" for a fair tax paid financial resolution.

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16twentyonetwelve(98 comments)posted 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Ohhh... but they have money for: tattoos, beer, cigs, branding of the skin, rims, lottery tickets, fast food (3x a day), stereos, drugs, fancy fingernails, the best cell phones, stacks of dvd's, hundreds of pairs of shoes, hard alcohol, going out on the weekend... the list goes on.

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17iBuck(214 comments)posted 11 months, 4 weeks ago

The comments are quite entertaining. "Undocumented drivers". Has anyone looked at the history of the advent and development of licensing of driving?

One of the earliest steam-powered trucks was made in France in 1769. --- The History Channel "Modern Marvels: The Evolution of the Truck"

Of course, the pharoahs tried to restrict who could drive a chariot back about 5 thousand years ago. They were the tanks, the military vehicles of their day, allowing one person to drive while another fired arrows... even before horses were big and strong enough to ride.

But licensing of driving didn't really take hold in the USA until the Great Depression, when a scattering of judges started arbitrarily declaring that it was no longer a right but a "privilege". The first traffic light was deployed in Ohio in the late 1930s.

But some places had licensing shortly after 1900, as soon as cars stopped being expensive play-things of the wealthy and the little people started buying them. They started out as an annual tax; you'd pay and they'd give you a receipt. Then they decided to spot-check whether people had the receipts every time there was a wreck, then whenever they had a light out. The hand-written receipts had people's names on them, and they decided those were inadequate, so they added descriptions. With more numbers, vehicle thefts increased, so they started requiring registration, then visible plates.

And so creeping draconianism increases. "Oh, this step isn't so bad. It's a reasonable precaution. It will solve our inability to control...", and so on with the next step and the next step. And at each step they say not to worry, the time of Big Brother is off there in the distance of time and space.

"The right of the citizen to travel upon the public high-ways & to transport his property thereon, either by carriage or by automobile, is not a mere privilege which a city may prohibit at will, but a common right which he has under the right to life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness." --- Thompson v Smith 154 SE 179

"Undoubtedly the right of locomotion, the right to move from one place to another according to inclination, is an attribute of personal liberty, & the right, ordinarily, of free transit from or through the territory of any State is a right secured by the 14th amendment & by other provisions of the Constitution." --- Schactman v Dulles 96 App DC 287, 293

"The state and its municipalities are prohibited from violating substantive rights Owen v City 445 US 622 (1980), among which are the right to travel free of license, fee, and tax, within the interstate (Crandall v Nevada 73 US 35) and it cannot by any power do that which is expressly prohibited by any other power, that is taxation, eminent domain, licensing, as a matter of law (US & Utah v Daniels 22 P 159) nor may it do indirectly (Fairbanks v US 181 US 294 @300)." --- attributed to Lawton Chiles, late governor of Florida

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18iBuck(214 comments)posted 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Now, they do blanket scans of all license plates, using computer systems on marked and unmarked government vehicles.

They require Socialist Insecurity Numbers, thumb-prints, notification of every residence change...

And yet, we have 10 million to 20 million illegal aliens "living in the shadows", which they've failed and refused to catch and remove. About 40% of those are visa-overstayers, but, no, we couldn't possibly run proper background investigations of visa applicants. We couldn't possibly make an honest effort to merely fence the 8,600 or so miles of borders,

but we sure can record millions of innocent people's cell phone locations, where they call and what location calls them, and link those devices to the purchasers/service purchasers, and record millions of conversations for later data-mining.

"The right of the citizen to drive on the public street with freedom from police interference, unless he is engaged in suspicious conduct associated in some manner with criminality is a fundamental Constitutional right which must be protected by the courts." --- 1971 People v Horton 14 Cal App 3rd 667

"[The automobile is a] suit of armor with 200 horses inside, big enough to make love in. Once having tasted the delights of a society in which almost everyone can be a knight, it is hard to go back to being a peasant." --- Kenneth Boulding _The Green Life-style Handbook_ (quoted in Reason magazine)

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19VINDYAK(1799 comments)posted 11 months, 4 weeks ago

I realize this is off subject, but I must reply to a previous poster. What HellaBB fails to realize about gun control is, there are 80 million gun owners in American. That is a very substantial number of voters who can sway politicians to their point of view. Placing computerized trigger locks on a gun is not an easy retrofit and it will reduce the value of a collectible firearm as it removes the firearm from its original status. Roy Rodger's Colt 45's, The Duke's Winchesters and collections of many, many movie stars, politicians, and so on down the line. This is far too big to overcome with suspect technology. It just is not going to happen.

The next thing to consider is, who are you trying to take guns away from? Naturally, you want to take guns away from those who commit crimes. The criminal doesn't care about any stinking laws or trigger locks, so they will continue to ignore laws and use illegal weapons as tools for committing crimes.

There are countries throughout the world that have banned private ownership of firearms, but they have not stopped the criminals and they have placed the public in further danger, as the public is unable to defend itself and crime has actually gone up. Then there are countries such as Switzerland, where every homeowner is required to have a gun in the home. Crime in their country is the lowest in the world.

We are constantly hearing about gun control as a way to stop crime, but the proof is there that it does not work. The real issue in the increased crime in society is the way we treat crime. We demonize the tool and slap the hand of the criminal and then try to rehab him. This is not working folks, we all know it, but we still keep doing the same thing, hoping it will work some day. Ain't gonna happen.

So, if the liberal thinkers still want to give criminals the easy life, then those of us who want to protect ourselves from this irrational thinking must have the right to protect themselves. This logic has apparently taken on some mileage, as most states in our country now allow concealed carry and some allow open carry, with no permits. And in every state where this occurred, the crime rates have fallen.

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20VINDYAK(1799 comments)posted 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I realize this is off subject, but I must reply to a previous poster. What HellaBB fails to realize about gun control is, there are 80 million gun owners in American. That is a very substantial number of voters who can sway politicians to their point of view. Placing computerized trigger locks on a gun is not an easy retrofit and it will reduce the value of a collectible firearm as it removes the firearm from its original status. Roy Rodger's Colt 45's, The Duke's Winchesters and collections of many, many movie stars, politicians, and so on down the line. This is far too big to overcome with suspect technology. It just is not going to happen.

The next thing to consider is, who are you trying to take guns away from? Naturally, you want to take guns away from those who commit crimes. The criminal doesn't care about any stinking laws or trigger locks, so they will continue to ignore laws and use illegal weapons as tools for committing crimes.

There are countries throughout the world that have banned private ownership of firearms, but they have not stopped the criminals and they have placed the public in further danger, as the public is unable to defend itself and crime has actually gone up. Then there are countries such as Switzerland, where every homeowner is required to have a gun in the home. Crime in their country is the lowest in the world.

We are constantly hearing about gun control as a way to stop crime, but the proof is there that it does not work. The real issue in the increased crime in society is the way we treat crime. We demonize the tool and slap the hand of the criminal and then try to rehab him. This is not working folks, we all know it, but we still keep doing the same thing, hoping it will work some day. Ain't gonna happen.

So, if the liberal thinkers still want to give criminals the easy life, then those of us who want to protect ourselves from this irrational thinking must have the right to protect themselves. This logic has apparently taken on some mileage, as most states in our country now allow concealed carry and some allow open carry, with no permits. And in every state where this occurred, the crime rates have fallen.

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21southsidedave(4780 comments)posted 11 months, 3 weeks ago

The criminal doesn't care about any stinking laws or trigger locks...the way of the world my friend.

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22kurtw(846 comments)posted 11 months, 3 weeks ago

What about just controlling- or restricting- or prohibiting out-right the production of ammo- a gun without bullets is just a fancy paperweight, right?

Also, hellas thought, a computer chip in this, a computer chip in that- designed to control human behavior- it takes a very powerful (democratic?) government to do all that. What about the next logical step- plant a chip in everyone's brain making them docile- no more "out of the box thinking", right? Everyone just "toes the line" and follows orders.

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23zz3(931 comments)posted 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Brilliant stats again for Thugstown. How about this: If they get caught driving without a license and are on Entitlements of any kind, SUSPEND THEM until they do get a license!!!!! I can safely assume they were for the most part on some kind of entitlements. Oh and about the guns get serious!! How about the killing and stabbing at the texas school by blacks, should we outlaw knives now?? Get real people its sounds so ignorant..take guns off the streets Geeezzzz.

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24excel(280 comments)posted 11 months, 3 weeks ago

The problem isn't skin color. The problem is guns!

LET'S GET ALL OF THE GUNS OFF THE STREETS!

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25kurtw(846 comments)posted 11 months, 3 weeks ago

What I like about Excel's comments is their economy: it's always the same message- "Lets get, etc. etc" so instead of writing from scratch, just copy and paste. Real simple- like a slogan.

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26LtMacGowan(641 comments)posted 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I can assure you that most "criminals" although some how that word doesn't seem to compare to a guy who drives with out a license as opposed to a serial rapist, are acutely aware of the law because they are all too well aware of the consequences for breaking it.

Ive seen many people here complain about OVI checkpoints letting people through for not having insurance or a license, but nobody here is either willing to consider, or pay for the huge increase in cost it will take to start arresting these people, the time it will delay officers from responding to other crimes, or the incarceration costs of holding these people.

So the next time you call the police be prepared to wait 2 hours because all available officers are busy filing paperwork on the person they just arrested for driving under suspension.

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27stateline(69 comments)posted 11 months, 3 weeks ago

HellaBB you are a moron with apparently no knowledge in any type of mechanics. you can't just "put a chip " on a gun to lock the firing pin. Thats like putting an electric engine on a Model T car.

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28Robert_Neville(119 comments)posted 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I say make the law hurt. These people sign a paper that stats they have insurance and a drivers license. If you lie you pay. I am getting sick of this no fault no harm policy this country has in place. There is a reaction to everything we do. If the leaders of the country do not want to see this then they are as much at fault as all of us. I say hold people accountable. Have them hold signs picking up trash and helping out the community's. America is getting weaker with the leadership it has and the world is loving it. Because they are getting rich as we are getting poor. So if you think smoking pot is a right it is not. If you want a good job work for it.

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