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Archive for Thursday, October 25, 2007

Garden City ordinance targets unlicensed, uninsured drivers

October 25, 2007

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— Newly revised traffic laws in Garden City that impose mandatory jail sentences for drivers repeatedly caught without a license or insurance have spawned fears among some Hispanics in the western Kansas town.

Garden City Mayor Reynaldo Mesa said the traffic ordinance was not meant to single out Hispanics and applies to the whole community. But Hispanic leaders say the measure particularly affects illegal immigrants, because a Social Security number is required to obtain or renew a driver's license in Kansas under a state law that went into effect in July.

"I am not happy doing some of these things," Mesa said, "but at some point it is going to have to click: You can't do that."

The measure garnered little attention when the City Council passed it last month, but alarm has grown as more Hispanic leaders learn about it.

"It is pretty scary," said Armando Minjarez, community organizer for the southwest Kansas chapter of Sunflower Community Action, a Hispanic advocacy group. "People have no idea they are going to be at more risk."

Under the new traffic ordinance, those convicted of driving without a valid driver's license can be fined more than $1,000 and imprisoned for up to six months for a first offense. But repeat offenders face mandatory jail time, which increases for each additional offense to at least 270 days by the sixth or subsequent conviction.

For those convicted of driving without insurance, the new ordinance imposes fines of between $300 and $1,000 and up to six months in jail for a first offense.

Police Chief James Hawkins said his officers issue at least one citation a day to an unlicensed driver in the city of about 27,000 residents.

"We think it is a huge problem," Hawkins said.

Police say the numbers of those driving without insurance in Garden City is much higher.

Comments

posessionannex 6 years, 5 months ago

This person...

"It is pretty scary," said Armando Minjarez, community organizer for the southwest Kansas chapter of Sunflower Community Action, a Hispanic advocacy group. "People have no idea they are going to be at more risk."

... needs to learn what constitutes risky behavior.

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oldgoof 6 years, 5 months ago

Watch for more cities to pick up on Garden City's actions.

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Confrontation 6 years, 5 months ago

Exactly, madmike. I don't care at all about the concerns of illegals who are breaking the law constantly by just being here. I'm tired of them demanding special treatment. They know they need insurance and licenses.

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madmike 6 years, 5 months ago

Another fine example of supporters of illegal immigration claiming that illegals are being wronged by having to obey the laws.

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Flap Doodle 6 years, 5 months ago

Don't do the crime if you can't do the time (don't do it)...

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50YearResident 6 years, 5 months ago

If illegals are going to drive then they have to conform to the same laws and regulations that we legal citizens obey.

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spywell 6 years, 5 months ago

I always thought that if the state would seize the persons car that they would not be repeating the violation too often. God forbid you let an unlicenses driver drive your car then.

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