Driving without a license; Courthouse sting: Howard County operation to apprehend lawbreakers protects motoring public.


STINGS used by Howard County and the Maryland State Police to catch people driving with suspended licenses leave some people vaguely uncomfortable. It shouldn't.

Some liken the setup to the old speed traps that were prevalent before the interstates made it easier to avoid the small towns that ran them. Back then, a town could easily raise revenue by posting a traffic officer near a speed-limit sign. Motorists who applied the brakes too late had to pay the price.

Traffic safety was the dubious goal of the old speed traps; safer roads is more clearly the object of today's operation to catch drivers with suspended licenses.

Most of the 77 people ordered to a Jan. 7 meeting with their parole officers abided by the rules of their probation and had someone drive them to Howard County District Court. The 28 others who were arrested for driving without a valid license have only themselves to blame. It's not like those speed traps where the speed limit suddenly changed. The drivers knew when they got behind the wheel that they were breaking the law.

Sympathy for those who list the difficulties of being unlicensed to drive withers in the light of what brought them to such a sad state.

Licenses are revoked in only the most egregious cases of traffic violations, including an accumulation of citations that indicates the driver is a danger on the road.

Law enforcement must not allow these people to drive until they are deemed worthy of the privilege. A driver's license is not an inalienable right.

Seven similar stings have been conducted across Maryland during the past year. More than 100 people who got behind the wheel with a revoked license have been caught. One shudders to think how many have not been apprehended -- the ones smart enough to avoid driving to a courthouse with a suspended license.

Pub Date: 1/13/99

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