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Unlicensed, suspended drivers in Fresno county could face lesser consequences

Unlicensed, suspended drivers in Fresno county could face lesser consequences

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. - A major change to how officers in Fresno county enforce traffic laws concerning unlicensed, and suspended drivers. 

This month, The Fresno County District Attorney's Office announced it will reduce misdemeanor charges to infractions in some cases.

If you're caught driving in Fresno county without a license or with a suspended license, chances are you'll no longer face much of a penalty.

"Most of these charges end up as infractions anyway," said Fresno County Assistant District Attorney, Steve Wright. "We figured if it's going to resolve as an infraction, we may as well just start out as an infraction."

At the beginning of the month, Wright said they sent a memo to law enforcement agencies telling them about the new policy when it comes to unlicensed drivers or those caught driving with a suspended license. The DA's office is asking officers and deputies to issue tickets for infractions, instead of misdemeanors. 

Wright said that could reduce fines from around $1,400 to only $100.

"By doing this, we're trying to help out some defendants so they don't have to go hire an attorney to appear on a misdemeanor," said Wright. "This is now an offense in traffic court."

"It can result in a lot of problems, and a lot of confusion for a lot of people," said CBS47 Legal Analyst David Mugridge.

"Any time you start playing around with fundamental things like drivers license, ability to drive safely, driving impaired, insurance, all those things put the public at risk," said Mugridge.

Wright said there are a few exceptions. He encourages officers to charge unlicensed and suspended drivers with a misdemeanor when there are unusual circumstances or if the driver has multiple prior convictions for a similar violation.

 


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