Immigrants Charged With No Valid Driver's License

By: Dana Arquilla
By: Dana Arquilla

Since the beginning of the year, Bay County law enforcement officers have charged 381 Hispanics for driving without a driver’s license.

Lt. Joe Tucker of the Florida Highway Patrol said, "There is an increase of immigrants in this area, a lot of different races are moving into the area; in construction and in Florida, we have several thousands per day become residents, so it is a growing problem."

Officials say they issue criminal citations to immigrants with no valid driver’s license on a daily basis. Besides the obvious law violation, it could pose a problem if these immigrants don't understand or can't read American road signs.

Authorities say at least one illegal immigrant was responsible for a deadly traffic crash last year.

Arturo Martinez had already been deported once. He came back to America and ran over two Ukrainian men on Highway 98 last July. One of them died.

Martinez pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident with a death. He did not have a legal driver's license.

What's worse he'd just pleaded guilty to driving without a valid license two weeks earlier. It was three years ago a Guatemalan, here on a work visa, killed a 21-year-old Bay County man named William Barfield in a hit and run crash on Transmitter Road.

Authorities used dogs and a helicopter to track down Carlos Lopez, who fled from the scene. Lopez did not have a driver’s license.

The fact is, many of these drivers don't have any legal identification at all. They're here illegally, and local authorities say there's not much they can do about it without help from federal immigration officers.


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