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for reference. The original video has been deleted and is no longer available. Man arrested for 48 suspensions on license
Wayland, N.Y. --- Elvis Torres is in Steuben County’s jail facing a criminal charge that could land him in state prison for up to four years. Torres, 34, was arrested on June 24th in Wayland when a state trooper pulled him over on I-390 and realized Torres was driving on a suspended license.
A license that was suspended 48 times according to state records.
42 of those suspensions stem from 16 different dates since 1997. Department of Motor Vehicles records show that his license was first suspended after Torres was caught driving without insurance. Since then he has accumulated suspensions for failing to pay fines in Kings County, Queens County, Herkimer County, Nassau County, Suffolk County, and Monroe County.
A D.M.V. spokesman informed 13WHAM News that Torres’ record shows no alcohol-related offenses or accidents on his public record. He owes $3,435 in outstanding fines.
(NOTE: New York State Department of Corrections records indicate that Torres served two state prison sentences totaling five years for non-traffic related offenses since 2002.)
"Prison time, that’s it,” George Frisch of Greece said when asked what should happen to Torres now.
“How many chances can you have?"
"That is the only thing that might deter somebody,” Patricia Frisch added. “And at least it will get him off the street for a while; at the very least it might save a few lives."
New York State Police Trooper Mark O’Donnell tells 13WHAM News that he has often encountered drivers with ten, maybe 15, and sometimes even 20 license suspensions on their record.
"In this particular case 48 suspensions, really? I don't think he's really that concerned about the penalties,” Trooper O’Donnell said of Torres. "Again, they don't care. They certainly don't care about keeping their license valid. They certainly don't care about paying their fines and being responsible for their actions.”
In 2012 the Fairport community experienced the loss of a beloved high school teacher, Heather Boyum, who was struck and killed on Route 250 in Penfield by two drivers who did not have licenses.
"Mrs. Boyum was a teacher for my son and it affected him pretty hard," George Wheatley of Fairport recalled.
Wheatley also questions how much harsher penalties would deter repeat offenders such as Torres.
“Well, it didn't deter this guy,” said Wheatley. "Something has to be done about that."
Many lawmakers are supportive of harsher penalties for those convicted of driving without a license or on a suspended license.
"I think when people make that decision they deserve what's coming to them and we need to deal with that very harshly," said New York State Senator Ted O’Brien (D, Irondequoit). "The problem is a lot of times people who choose to drive without a license have already established that they disrespect the law and if there's a need for increasing penalties I think that's something that we need to look at legislatively and find out if there's an additional legislative solution."
Assembly Republican Minority Leader Brian Kolb is one of those lawmakers who is sponsoring legislation aimed at holding unlicensed drivers accountable. One bill he sponsors would reduce the burden on prosecutors left to prove that a driver actually knew their license was suspended multiple times. Another bill he plans to join as a sponsor would significantly increase penalties for unlicensed drivers.
"It is a total disregard for the law and I think the punishment should be increased significantly and severely,” Minority Leader Kolb (R, Canandaigua) said. "Quite frankly, those that are driving with suspended licenses are not carrying any insurance so if there is property damage or unfortunately a bodily harm perspective there is no insurance coverage to deal with the victims accordingly, so I think this is a very serious crime.”
Assemblyman Kolb also raises questions about how Torres’ past traffic infractions and cases have been handled by prosecutors and the courts.
"Actually, ten suspensions or more (and) he is supposed to face up to four years in prison,” Kolb said of the current laws. “What I don't know is did that actually happen with him?”