Editorial: License record drives home need for reform

The other shoe has dropped for Dennis Drue, whose name has become somewhat infamous in the Capital District in past weeks, and the Siena student is facing quite a set of charges in a Saratoga County court. You can read all about it on our website, spotlightnews.com.

Our story covers Drue’s alleged involvement in the Northway crash last year that killed Shen seniors Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers, and badly injured teens Matt Hardy and Bailey Wind. But what prosecutors included as part of the indictment against Drue were portions of his driving record.

Since 2007, Drue has racked up the following on his driving record: 13 speeding tickets (some for more than 30 mph over the limit, and one after an accident); two tickets for blowing a stop sign; a ticket for an uninspected vehicle; two tickets for driving while using a cell phone; a ticket for obstructed view; a ticket for having a light out; and two tickets pertaining to the windows on his car. The vast majority of these tickets were upheld.

Add to that the fact Drue’s license was suspended no fewer than five times for failing to answer a ticket or pay fines, and on another occasion for racking up three speeding tickets in an 18-month period. He was also involved in four car accidents (not including that fateful December crash), one of them a hit-and-run, and was found to be at fault in each and every instance.

A six-year window is a goodly span of time, but this list is voluminous by any standard. And yet on Dec. 1 of last year, when Drue allegedly clipped that SUV and sent it rolling off the road, he was behind the wheel holding a valid license.

Whether or not Drue should be punished for his actions will be left up to the legal system. But the entire affair should also demand a reexamination of our traffic laws.

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teachdaddy 3 years ago

Your editorial makes this sound as if it's a somewhat-isolated incident. But we have something similar going on now in the Tri-Village area. Every day, drivers ignore the red lights at the many, heavily-traveled intersections in town, amoing them Elsmere and Delaware Avenues, the Four Corners, and even on the bypass at crossroads there. This was something that was seen only in Albany, but now it has invaded here.. It is only a matter of time before there is a serious "accident".

A recent article in the Times-Union called red-light running a "national epidemic", involving all ages, genders, and economic groups. That is certainly the case here in Bethlehem, where young mothers, their phone in one hand in their big SUV's, high-schoolers speeding down the Bypass trying to get back to class, and men on their way to another deal are too self-important to obey the law.

Supervisor Clarkson commented that it's hard to get people to change their behavior. As a former third-grade teacher, I have a suggestion. First, the carrot: let the police announce that there will be a crackdown on red-light running, while recognizing that good citizens are careful to obey the law. Then, the stick: the police cite those who run the red lights, and like the DWI's, publish the names of those cited in the Spotlight weekly. Then, when these motorists appear in court, they are not allowed to bargain down the charge.

I view driving as a contract. I'll be safe, obey the laws, drive sober, not tailgate, and I'll expect you to do the same. If you can't, you forfeit the "privilege" of driving on the same roads that I use.

I hope the police will quickly move to end this dangerous practice before someone is hurt.


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