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Thousands In Minn. Drive Without Licenses, Sometimes With Fatal Consequences

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Earlier this month, a hit-and-run killed a young Twin Cities woman who ware riding her bike.

Police say Abdrihaman Ali was speeding when he blew through a stop sign in south Minneapolis without his lights on at night.  He's charged with criminal vehicular operation for hitting 24-year-old Jessica Hanson.

Investigators say he had a canceled driver's license. According to the State Patrol, he's one of thousands of Minnesotans who've been caught driving without a license in the last year.

Just last year, troopers ticketed 15,000 people for driving without a license.

"We don't know how many of these people drive until we do catch them," said Lt. Eric Roeske with the State Patrol.

The decision to drive without a license can have deadly consequences. Just ask Justin Beckman,  who was Hanson's boyfriend.

"Everyone just loved her," said Beckman, during an interview earlier this month.

"I just don't want people to forget about her," he added.  "She's so important to me."

It is a scene Roeske sees more often than he'd like. Over the last five years, drivers with suspended, revoked or canceled licenses accounted for 13,000 crashes.

"It's frustrating for us, because, we see these folks involved in crashes, whether it's someone rear-ending or a fatal crash," Roeske said.

The crashes often times cost licensed drivers more money.  Unlicensed driving usually segues into uninsured driving. Ultimately, it pushes up the cost of insurance premiums.

"And that's a big problem because, in Minnesota, we're required to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance coverage," said Mark Kulda, the vice president of the Insurance Federation of Minnesota.

"If they're in accidents, it makes our premiums, people who do buy insurance, the premiums for that coverage go up."

With millions of drivers on the road every day, it is a problem nearly impossible to stop.

"Unfortunately, a lot of it has to be self-regulated," Roeske said.

But if you ask the man still grieving the loss of life, the answer has never been so simple.

"Obey the traffic laws," Beckman said.

In Minnesota, traffic violations aren't the only reason a driver can lose their license. Non-driving related issues, such as unpaid child support or unpaid tickets, can also cause someone to lose their privileges.

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