Sting operation catches suspended licenses

November 17, 2008 6:57:02 PM PST
There was a rude awakening on Monday for people showing up for traffic court in Oakland. Drivers who got behind the wheel, despite just having their license suspended, were caught red handed.

Motorcycles zoomed in every direction as drivers drove even though a judge took away their license.

"They're going to tow the damn car," said a man.

"We have undercover officers in the courtroom. We have 18 people on the docket and once they're told, 'Hey you can't drive anymore, your license is suspended.' We'll get a description of them as they're leaving," said Jeff Thomason.

Some took a bus or BART home, but police caught six of the 12 who showed up in court driving away anyway.

"How else was I supposed to get home? I just got out of court, they're just now telling me I couldn't drive," said Wilbert Ballard, a person driving with a suspended license.

Angered drivers had to turn over their keys, grab their belongings and hike home as their car was towed and impounded.

"He was told he didn't have the right to drive, that his privilege to drive was taken away or suspended. Even after this case, he decided to go back to his car parked a block from court and try to drive home," said Sgt. Mark Dunakin, from the Oakland Police Department.

"I have to get my license straightened out, pay the ticket and try to get another car," said Harold Beal, a person driving with a suspended license.

Police are also snagging drivers with suspended licenses at DUI checkpoints. Last Friday on International Boulevard, police only made three DUI arrests, but they caught 44 drivers out on the road with a suspended license.

This is the fifth sting operation staged by Oakland Police. They say most of the 5,000 hit and run accidents each year in the city are caused by drivers without a valid license. Tonight six more are off the streets.


Load Comments