Originally published 2/4/2014 and updated 6/13/2014
St. Louis Park, Minn. -- Last November, a car veered off an entrance ramp and plunged into a 6-feet deep holding pond in St. Louis Park. The incident killed two of the five small children in the car. Police say the driver did not have a valid driver's license – a prevalent problem among drivers on Minnesota roads according to court records.
Investigators are still looking into the cause of the St. Louis Park crash and at this point the driver, Marion Guerrido, has not been charged with anything.
But an analysis of Minnesota court records spanning six years shows thousands of drivers who have been charged and convicted for driving when the law says they can't.
Statewide since 2008, there have been nearly 310,000 convictions for violations related to driving without a valid license
The 2008-2013 convictions include learner's permit violations, as well as convictions for driving with a suspended, revoked, cancelled or disqualified license or no license at all. The records also show thousands of repeat offenders - drivers who have been convicted more than twice of some type of driver's license violation.
Drivers in the 7-county metro area accounted for more than half of the total convictions.
Minnesota State Trooper Jarod Moris says there are more invalid drivers on Minnesota roads than people think. It didn't take long during a recent ride-along with MPR News and KARE 11 to find drivers who were on the road despite their driving privileges being suspended or revoked.
" It means that there's a small percentage of people out there who are disregarding the safety of everyone else who's doing the right thing and for the people who are doing the right thing, I would recommend paying attention to whatever everyone else is doing as much as you're paying attention to what you're doing," says Moris.
According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, approximately one in eight Minnesota drivers does not have valid driving privileges.
Victim advocates like Jon Cummings of Minnesotans for Safe Driving says it's hard to prevent people who are determined to drive, from getting behind the wheel.
"Lots of innocent people play a huge price for other peoples' lack of responsibility," Jon says.
Trisha Volpe also reports for MPR News. You can read more about her story on mprnews.org.