PORTAGE (WKOW) -- 25-year old Winona Rau of Portage has a municipal court date next month on her forty-eighth citation for driving with a revoked driver's license, and tells 27 News, she just cannot keep up with the tickets.
"I was getting pulled over every day," Rau tells 27 News. "I'd pull out of my driveway, I'd get pulled over."
Rau estimates she owes over $3,000 in forfeitures.
"It's just coming up with that type of money," Rau says. "I've got rent to pay, I've got bills to pay, I've got four kids to take care of," Rau tells 27 News.
Rau says she has only two speeding tickets in her driving career, and tells 27 News car equipment problems have accounted for the majority of her police stops.
Portage Police lieutenant Mark Hahn says when Rau was pulled over by an officer Aug.6, he had her car towed, but despite forty-eight citations, there was no arrest.
"There is nothing he can do, except to issue a ticket," Hahn says.
Driving after revocation formerly allowed for some offenders to be jailed and charged, but a change in the law in recent years allows an arrest for OAR only if it's coupled with a crash, or operating under the influence.
Former Columbia County District Attorney Mark Bennett says a move to return to jailing these offenders could backfire.
"By making this a criminal offense, if it's not connected to an OWI., it just clogs up the court system." Bennett says.
Bennett says most offenders work with prosecutors and others to get their driver's licenses back, and sees Rau's history as an outlier.
"This is an extreme case...I've never heard of anyone coming anywhere close to 48 OARs, it's got to be a state record," Bennett says.
Published reports state a driver with a suspended or revoked license is a greater risk to become involved with a serious accident. Hahn says drivers with several OARs often lack auto insurance, and create risk for other drivers, if there's a crash.
Police officers can tow offender cars, and Hahn says that was done with Rau's sedan in her most recent traffic stop. Hahn says only a licensed driver can retrieve the towed vehicle.
Rau says despite the change in the law, she has fear when she gets behind the wheel. "That they're going to throw me in jail? Yeah, every day (I worry)."
Municipal court judges can issue arrest warrants when unpaid forfeitures languish. Rau owes $114 from Feb. 2013, but court clerk Dawn Wilcox says higher amounts are receiving priority for consideration for warrants. Many of Rau's past tickets involve Sauk County.
"I'm going to start paying them off," Rau tells 27 News. "I'm done, I can't keep doing this."
But will Rau again get behind the wheel, despite lacking a valid license? "If I absolutely have to. It's an emergency, I'll drive," Rau says.
In Dane County, drivers struggling with the legal and financial hurdles of regaining a driver's license after suspension or revocation, can contact the YWCA Madison's Driver's License Recovery program at 608-257-1436.
For more from Winona Rau on her 48 tickets, and the issue of driving without a valid license, visit wkow.com and watch 27 News at 6.
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