CBS46 Investigation catches people driving illegally - CBS46 News

CBS46 Investigation catches people driving illegally, putting others at risk

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Drunk driver without a license crashes into Gwinnett Police car Drunk driver without a license crashes into Gwinnett Police car

A CBS46 investigation reveals that you may not be as safe as you think behind the wheel of your car.

In the past two years, there have been nearly 17,000 people driving illegally and some of them under the influence.

In a flash, Deputy Justin Lunt's life nearly ended. A drunk driver crashed into the back of Lunt's patrol car in September. Joshua Kim, 19, was charged with DUI and driving on a suspended license. His second DUI in two years.

A decade earlier, Gwinnett County Officer Justin Guck had just pulled over a drunk driver when another smashed into his car. Neither of the drivers had a valid license.

"It pushed the rear of the patrol car all the way up into the screen, the cage in the patrol car, pinning me between my seat and the steering wheel," Cpl. Justin Guck with Gwinnett Police said. "I had severe head trauma, several broken bones, and several lacerations."

Last year, the Georgia State Patrol issued more than 9,000 citations for driving on a suspended license. So far this year, almost 8,000.

Judges in courtrooms across the metro area see the problem every day.

Violators are so blatant that minutes after facing Clayton County Judge John Carbo and being ordered off the streets, we caught people driving away from the courthouse.

One of them, George Tidwell, charged with driving on a suspended license and improper stopping on the roadway.

"Why are you driving?" CBS46's Adam Murphy asked.

"I'm driving because I have to get to the house. I don't have much of a choice," George Tidwell said.

"You're not supposed to drive though," Murphy said.

I know I'm not supposed to drive, but sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do to get to the house because I have nobody else to depend on," Tidwell said.

But its cases of DUI that are most troubling. Each year drunk drivers kill nearly 400 people in Georgia.

"Pleading guilty to a DUI charge for example their license is immediately suspended at that point and if they drive away from the court they're again violating the law," Clayton County Judge John Carbo said.

Cesar Lemuz pled guilty to DUI in September. While he didn't drive away from the courthouse, a month later we caught him driving home.

"Explain to me why you're driving and putting others at risk?" Murphy asked.

Can you get out of the property?" Cesar Lemuz asked.

"Can you answer the question?" Murphy asked.

On the state level our investigation found very little is being done keep suspended drivers off the road.

It's not until after your second DUI in ten years that state law requires you install an ignition interlocking device in your car.

"We also install a camera in the car to make sure that's the person operating the machine," Frank Holdiman with Smart Start said.

Your car wont' start unless you're sober, but the device is removed after only six months, and many violators never get it installed.

"Well people either have a good lawyer or they're just falling through the loops," Holdiman said.

Back in the courtroom, the revolving door continues. Judge Carbo's calendar is routinely full of people caught driving illegally.

"After 26 years I've seen a lot of familiar faces," Carbo said. "It's frustrating because you do expect people to play by the rules."

Activists want stronger laws. One option is to target first offenders, and require any driver caught driving under the influence to use an interlocking device for at least a year. State Representative Tom Rice has a study committee looking at this and says he hopes to introduce legislation next year.

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