Drivers who are unlicensed or have a suspended or revoked license are nearly three times more likely to cause a fatal crash, a new Department of Motor Vehicles study found.
But it’s even more dangerous to be an unlicensed driver rather than drive with a suspended or revoked license. Compared with the average legal driver, such drivers are 2.6 to 2.73 times more likely to cause a fatal crash, depending on the driver, the study found.
The study, Fatal Crash Rates for Suspended/Revoked and Unlicensed Drivers, took crash data over a span of 23 years. Researchers looked at the correlation among two-vehicle fatal crashes where one driver was at fault. The at-fault crash risk of drivers without permission to drive has not diminished over time.
The Department of Motor Vehicles found that people between the ages of 20 to 29 who do not have authorized licenses have the largest percentage of two-vehicle fatal car accidents.
If caught with a suspended or revoked license or found to be driving without one, the citation can result in a 30-day vehicle impoundment, thousands of dollars in fines, as well as time added to a suspension or probation period.
In San Rafael, the police department's vehicle impound policy toward unlicensed drivers stirred controversy in 2011 when neighbors from the Canal area — a densely populated 2.5 square-mile stretch north of Highway 580 that is home to a large immigrant community — said that they were unfairly targeted at DUI checkpoints. The city has since relaxed its policy to allow unlicensed individuals, accompanied by a licensed driver, to pick up their cars from the impound lot without waiting 30 days.