Driving under suspension: Is the punishment enough?

ARCANUM, Ohio (WDTN) – 2 NEWS Investigates is digging deeper into the case of a driver whose license was taken away again and again and is now accused of hitting a girl in a crosswalk.

We’re asking whether the punishment is enough.

According to documents 2 NEWS Investigates obtained from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Billie Skeens, 24, has been busted for speeding, running stop signs and driving without a license over and over again.

So why does it keep happening? We asked the prosecutor why the punishment isn’t stronger.

Billie Skeens’ driving record speaks for itself. According to BMV records obtained by 2 NEWS Investigates, her license has been suspended six times and she’s been cited at least four times for not having a license or driving while on a suspended one.

Now, she’s facing an additional driving under suspension charge after the Arcanum accident that left Cailynn Stephens, 13, with a brain injury.

“I don’t know how someone continuously is allowed to be let go, be let go, be let go,” said Cailynn’s mom Sarah Stephens, “When and where do we hold that individual accountable?”

Cailynn’s mom is furious with the lack of punishment Skeens has received for driving with a suspended license.

We took her concerns to Darke County Assistant Prosecutor Jesse Green who is overseeing the current charges.

“It carries a maximum penalty of up to $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail,” said Green.

Green is recommending Skeens serve 30 days in jail and pay a $500 fine.

Natalie: “Why not recommend the full amount of jail?”

Green: “I’ve got to be reasonable and stay with in the range of what we would normally do in these cases.”

Green says he wishes there were stricter penalties for drivers with records like Skeens.

“We’ve got to remember in Darke County we have 40 cells, so we have limited resources to put people in jail so we have to be sparing on how we use those.”

In fact, Green tells 2 NEWS Investigates there’s been a change to how they punish people who keep driving while under suspension.

“In the last few years, there’s been a move in the legislature to actually de-criminalize all the driving under suspension type cases,” said Green.

Green said it will take a change in state law to get these repeat offenders like Skeen to face more serious penalties.

We wondered whether 30 days in jail will change the behavior of a woman whose license has already been taken away six times?

Natalie: “Do you think it will work?”

Green: “It hasn’t in the past in this case.”

2 NEWS Investigates talked with State Senator Bill Beagle who said he is looking into these penalties to see if they are strong enough.

He said he wants to make sure there are real consequences to driving without a license.

 

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