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Unlicensed Drivers Don't Necessarily Stay Off Road

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Larry Blackburn
RALEIGH — Thousands of drunk drivers lose their licensesevery year, but it doesn't always keep them off the road. In fact, youcould be sharing the road with a habitual drunk driver any time you getbehind the wheel.

WRAL-TV5'sAmanda Lambobserved aRaleigh man whose license had been permanently revoked, but who was stilldriving. Larry Blackburn's license was taken away after a series of drunkdriving convictions, but that didn't stop him from driving his company'stow truck. Blackburn told Lamb he doesn't drink and drive now.

Larry Davis of the North Carolina Highway Patrol says it's not unusual tofind people driving on revoked licenses.

In 1996 in North Carolina, nearly 116,000 people were convicted of drivingwith a revoked license. Troopers says they don't know how many of themwere habitual drunk drivers, but last week a 4-year-old girl was killedwhen her family minivan was hit by a drunk driver whose license was permanently revoked several years ago.

Ironically, Riverview Towing was called to the scene of that accident.That's the company Blackburn works for, although Blackburn was not behind the wheel that day.

Riverview's owner Jeff Coffey says he didn't know Blackburn was driving acompany truck, and that he should not have been.

When Blackburn realized he was being followed by the WRAL crew, he parkedthe truck andcalled his boss to pick him up. Now, he's out of a job.

The DMV, local police and troopers set up roadblocks to catch habitualdrunk drivers, but, according to Davis, there is no guarantee such driverswill heed warnings and stay off the road.

Like many who lose their driving privileges, Blackburn says he has nochoice but to get back behind the wheel.

But, Trooper Jeff Winstead says the frustration of not having alicense cannot compare to the tragedy an unlicensed driver can cause.

WRAL wants to make it clear there is no evidence that Blackburn iscurrently drinking and driving, but the state continues to have a bigproblem with people who drive drunk, get caught, lose their licenses andcontinue to drive.

Police say if you know someone who drives drunk or if you see someonedriving erratically, you should call law enforcement. They will need agood description of the person, the vehicle and the location.

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