People standing around after an accident

If someone is serious about staying out of trouble, they won’t drive with a suspended license. But having a suspended license doesn’t mean you are physically prevented from driving. All too often, those whose driving records are bad enough to have a license suspension just keep on getting behind the wheel. An accident in Newark last month demonstrated how serious this problem is.

Raul O. Delatorre-Galarza was not only driving with a suspended license — he was entrusted with driving a commuter bus when he caused an accident that killed 11-year-old George Gonzalez. Prior to this accident, Delatorre-Galarza had his license suspended after being involved in ten previous accidents and had nine prior license suspensions going back to 2010, reports the Middletown Patch.

The accident occurred on a Friday morning at about 8 a.m. when the bus struck Gonzalez while he was on his way to catch his school bus. Included in Delatorre-Galarza’s previous citations were:

  • Failing to stop for a pedestrian
  • Using a handheld device while driving (two citations)
  • Failing to appear at court hearings (three citations).

Local residents told the media that commuter buses often speed through the area, oblivious to school children who may cross the street unsafely, not appreciating the danger.

One way to get around a suspended license is to engage in identity theft or fraud to get a license under a new name. What’s especially concerning is that some of these drivers illegally get licenses so they can drive buses and commercial trucks, vehicles that can do the most damage on the roadways.

In 2013, 38 New Jersey residents were indicted for illegally obtaining driver’s licenses after they were identified through a search of the driver’s license database by facial recognition software, according to North Jersey.comTwo of the 38 were:

  • Raymond Pompey of Hackensack, who after a sixth license suspension used the name of a dead man to obtain a commercial driver’s license and used it to drive a Coach USA bus.
  • Rickie Storie of Old Bridge used a pair of false identities to obtain a commercial license to drive trucks, including tanker trailers, after 64 license suspensions.

The state Motor Vehicle Commission has a database containing about 19 million photos. The agency searched for duplicate records that would indicate fraud. Many of those arrested have had their licenses suspended for dangerous driving.

  • 22 had prior charges of driving while intoxicated.
  • Ten were previously charged with three or more counts of driving while intoxicated.
  • Five were convicted sex offenders who apparently were trying to evade Megan’s Law reporting requirements.

A driver’s license can be suspended through the order of a judge or by administrative action by the Motor Vehicle Commission. It could be suspended because a driver failed to pay surcharges or accumulated enough points due to violations. If convicted of driving on a suspended license, a criminal defendant faces fines; and after a second conviction, the person could spend up to five days in county jail, up to ten days for a third conviction.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a person driving despite having a suspended license, schedule a free consultation with our office by calling us at (973) 358-6134 or by using our online quick connect form. Contact us so you can learn about your legal rights and take action to protect your ability to seek compensation.