License troubles yet again

The Baltimore Sun

No driver's license? No problem.

Or so 55-year-old Richard Samuel Dorsey Jr. seems to think.

The Annapolis-area man has been convicted six times of driving on a revoked or suspended license. He also has three DUIs, more than a dozen traffic convictions and 40 instances of failing to appear in court, police say.

Yet there he was Tuesday evening, driving around the state capital in a cream-colored Cadillac until an officer pulled him over for speeding.

"The guy cooperated - I guess he's used to it," said Officer Hal Dalton, a spokesman for the Annapolis Police Department. "Look at his record. Not too much happens to him."

At a bail review hearing yesterday, a pretrial services official said Dorsey lives with his parents near Sandy Point State Park and has nine children. In addition to his DUIs and traffic violations, the official said, he has failed to appear in court 28 times, a different figure than police offered.

Dorsey said he works for Park America, which runs a parking garage on Clay Street, where he was arrested this week, and that his wife drives him to work every day. Dorsey represented himself in court yesterday and suggested he was the victim of bad luck.

"I hadn't been in a car for two years, and then I get in one and get stopped, your honor," Dorsey told retired District Judge John H. Garmer.

A prosecutor recommended Dorsey be held on $10,000 bond. Garmer agreed.

In Maryland, a driver's license can be suspended for a number of reasons, including failure to pay child support, failure to appear in court or accumulating too many points. A license can be revoked when a driver has exceeded 12 points against his driving record in a two-year span and can be obtained again only if the driver is reinstated and reapplies for a license.

Buel C. Young, a spokesman for the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, said Dorsey's license has been revoked for at least the past three years, the period for which a driver's record is public.

Caroline Cash, executive director of the Chesapeake region chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said judges should consider issuing alcohol ignition interlock devices for such chronic offenders.

"[The interlock device] is a much better choice than a license suspension because it allows them to remain a viable and productive member of society - they can continue to have a job, continue to be parents if they need to be driving their children around," Cash said. "They just can't continue to drink and drive and threaten those around them."

Drunken driving is just a part of Dorsey's erratic driving record. The charges have included driving while intoxicated, violating a license restriction, driving on a revoked license, speeding, driving with a blood-alcohol level over 0.10, and driving under the influence. And that was just from one incident May 28, 1996.

Since 1987, he has been pulled over in an '85, a '77 and a '78 Chevy; a '98 Cadillac; a '77 and an '80 Ford; an '84 Toyota. One of them had a vanity plate that read "Shrimp."

Court records suggest some of the cases against him simply vanished because of his evasiveness.

He was sentenced in 1987 to one year, with all but two months suspended, for driving with a revoked license. He had twice failed to appear for that court proceeding and received a failure-to-pay suspension.

Another 1987 case appears to have been abandoned after he failed to appear. In 1993, he received 12 months in jail for driving with a revoked license and driving under the influence. Three years later - the May 28 incident - he racked up six traffic charges including drunken driving and was sentenced to six months in jail followed by supervised probation, records show.

In 2000, he was arrested for driving without a license and a $300 fine was imposed. He failed to appear, and those charges appear to have fizzled, according to records.

More charges followed in 2004, for driving with a suspended license, for which he received two years in jail with all but six months suspended. He was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine. A year later, he was arrested and charged with failing to display his license on command, but he failed to appear in court and the case remains active, according to electronic court records.

Court records show that Dorsey has been sentenced to jail for some of his infractions, though it was not clear how much time he has served.

Dalton, of the Annapolis police, said that though Dorsey's habit of failing to appear was unusual, his driving record was not.

"That's a recurrent problem. You've got people driving all the time that shouldn't," Dalton said. "Obviously, he's going to keep driving unless we see him and stop him."

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