A 24-year-old woman who led police on a chase through Portland this week has been cited a whopping 43 times for driving without a license, says The Oregonian. Seventeen times, she failed to show up in court for traffic citations. Kendareen Hudson has never held a valid Oregon driver’s license. But until her arrest Tuesday, it didn’t stop her from getting behind the wheel. That’s because police in Oregon are powerless to arrest people who repeatedly violate traffic laws or fail to show up for traffic court.
It’s a legal loophole that led a group of legislators and state law enforcement officials to gather yesterday in search of a solution. During the past seven years, Hudson was ticketed for failing to report an accident, driving without insurance, speeding, and giving false information to a police officer — all violations, not crimes. Typically, such habitual offenders are cited and released on the scene. But they can’t be taken to jail, said Lt. Gregg Hastings of the Oregon State Police, unless the driver commits a misdemeanor, such as driving under the influence of intoxicants or reckless driving. “It’s extremely frustrating to police officers,” Hastings said. “It’s a total disrespect for having the privilege of being a driver in our state. It’s really thumbing your nose at the system.” The agency may ask legislators to give officers the power to arrest people and perhaps stop a tragedy.