Drunk Driver Stalls on Railroad Tracks

File this under “It Could Have Been Worse.” A Chicago man named Esteban Garcia-Ortiz got his Nissan sedan stuck on a railroad track in Riverside, Illinois.  Police gave him a roadside sobriety test, which he failed. He thought he was driving on the street. As it turns out, drunk driving was just one of the charges he will face.

This drunk driver never had a license, as it turns out. Therefore, he has no car insurance. Moreover, he is at the wheel while sipping a beer. The only thing that could make this worse would have been if a train had come along.

License Suspensions Don’t Work

If Ortiz had been a licensed driver, many people’s reaction would be, “Take away his license for five years, 10 years, forever.” But this drunk driver never had a license, so how can it be taken away? The incident highlights the uselessness of suspending licenses for drunk driving.

For drivers who have taken the trouble to get their license, ignition interlocks are the preferred measure to ensure that a DUI does not repeat his or her crime. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Mr. Ortiz was charged with:

  • Felony aggravated drunk driving
  • Misdemeanor drunk driving
  • Improper lane usage
  • Driving without a license
  • Driving without insurance
  • Driving with an open alcohol container

All of which will add up to some hefty penalties. The felony DUI alone carries a jail term of one to three years.

After penalties are paid, will this offender be able to drive with an ignition interlock? Interesting question. He’ll have to apply for a monitoring device permit, for which you must be a licensed driver. So he’d have to take his driver’s test first. But can he do that if he’s not allowed to drive without an ignition interlock? We’ll let the lawyers figure that one out.

The only thing we do know is that the magic of pulling a driver’s license doesn’t stop people from driving. And it certainly doesn’t stop people from driving drunk.  Let’s hope the courts can find a way to get an ignition interlock on whatever vehicle this driver gets his hands on in the future.