November 12, 2005
An Odell man has racked up 23 traffic tickets during 2005 – and 15 have been for driving with a suspended license.
While investigating the case, a reporter learned that Jose De Jesus Magana-Garcia had lost his driving privileges due to a medical condition.
Every few weeks this year, the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office has gotten an anonymous tip that Jose De Jesus Magana-Garcia is again behind the wheel, according to Capt. Jim Tomson.
He said deputies have learned to be watchful for the 63-year-old Davis Drive subject while out on patrol. When he is spotted traveling along a roadway, Tomson another ticket is added to his growing roster.
“It really isn’t all that uncommon for people with a suspended license to keep on driving -- but maybe not to this level,” he said.
In recent months, Tomson said Magana-Garcia appears to be using an old strategy for getting his vehicles out of the impound yard. Since the senior citizen can’t redeem a car without being in possession of a valid license, Tomson said he apparently works around the system.
Recently, Magana-Garcia has purchased automobiles for a few hundred dollars and left the registration in the name of another individual. Tomson said the rightful “owner” then pays the $50 necessary to drive the vehicle off the lot for Magana-Garcia.
Tomson said it is frustrating for deputies to repeatedly write Magana-Garcia tickets, only to see him back out on the highway days later. He said if the subject has been prohibited from driving, it must be for some reason that concerns public safety.
According to Tomson, anyone allowing an unlicensed driver to operate a motor vehicle that he/she owns can also be ticketed for that offense.
“The people who are helping him play this game don’t really seem to care about the consequences,” he said.
Magana-Garcia’s infractions have not yet reached the level that qualifies for criminal prosecution, according to Hood River District Attorney John Sewell.
“Right now, the officers are limited by the law in terms of what their response to Mr. Magana-Garcia can be,” he said. “He’s not doing anything at this time that allows them to take him into custody, but it looks like he could be getting there.”
Sewell said once Magana-Garcia receives 20 citations for moving violations -- including driving with a suspended license -- the state takes action.
At that time, he said the Department of Motor Vehicles will send Magana-Garcia a letter of warning that he has become a habitual offender. With his 21st ticket, Sewell said the subject will have his license revoked altogether. From that point on, Sewell said any further driving violations could earn Magana-Garcia a conviction for a Class A misdemeanor and up to one year in jail.