EDITORIAL: Require offenders to obey traffic laws

2014-01-09T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Require offenders to obey traffic laws nwitimes.com
January 09, 2014 12:00 am  • 

LaPorte County Sheriff Mike Mollenhauer is wondering why a work release offender with a suspended license was allowed to drive to and from work. Who wouldn't wonder about that?

Mollenhauer's concern stems from a recent incident in which a LaPorte County offender on work release allegedly crashed into another vehicle and fled police.

The offender's driver's license had been suspended, Mollenhauer said.

"Here's another individual who's suspended, who's driving back and forth," the sheriff said.

Mollenhauer said no offender should be allowed to get into a vehicle and drive to work or anywhere else without a valid driver's license.

He's right, of course. Those offenders are under county supervision and should not be allowed to blatantly disobey the law.

Police said a 34-year-old offender pulled out of the work release center Dec. 29 and drove into the path of another motorist. The driver told another offender waiting for a ride, "I'm not going back to jail," then took off, LaPorte County police said.

We understand the sheriff is touchy about this issue because of an accident involving his wife. Sue Mollenhauer backed into a vehicle in November and went home. She said she didn't know she had struck that vehicle, owned by Ronald Robinson.

The sheriff said Robinson's license was suspended, although LaPorte County Community Corrections Director Dick Buelll said it wasn't.

Buell said all offenders are screened when they are checked in to make sure they have a valid driver's license.

Any offender caught driving without a valid license must face the conduct adjustment board and faces a possible return to jail and other potential disciplinary action, Buell said.

The sheriff's point about offenders under county supervision driving without a valid license is solid. The work release center should at least make sure offenders without a valid license don't walk out the door with car keys in their possession.

Verify the license status each workday to make sure the license wasn't suspended or revoked after the offender entered the county's custody.

Let someone else come pick up any offenders without a valid license and drive them to and from work.

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