PORTLAND, Ore. -- A Portland-area man has earned more driver’s license suspensions than anyone else in the state. The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles said Mark A. Ciarlante has 155 current suspensions and revocations.
The KATU Problem Solvers tracked down Ciarlante in downtown Portland and asked about his record and why the state could not stop him from driving illegally.
"They could never stop me," said Ciarlante.
Ciarlante said his problems began in high school, when he had an accident and did not pay the fines. His license was first suspended in 1992, according to DMV documents. He said he kept driving because he was young and dumb.
"I haven't killed anybody. No drunk driving. No attempting to elude. No major stuff. Just for not paying tickets," said Ciarlante.
He said drugs played a role in his decisions to keep driving illegally for more than 20 years, despite earning 149 suspensions and six revocations during that time. He said he owes more than $100,000 in fines, and has had his car impounded multiple times.
"I lost 11 cars in 33 days, because they tow them when you get caught driving. I lost one car every three-and-a-half days," said Ciarlante.
Oregon DMV spokesperson David House said there is no limit for these kinds of suspensions, and the agency can only punish these kinds of rogue drivers with fines, more suspensions and revocations.
"Most traffic violations are simply violations," said House. "And only a few driving things are considered crimes and push things into the criminal level."
"If you accumulate only traffic violations at the violation level, the law is set up to provide fines and suspensions. That's the extent to which the courts and DMV can go," said House.
The lack of punishment frustrates some other drivers.
"We abide by the law and we're being good, then this person can't get away with nothing," said driver Pam Oja.
House said studies show a strong correlation between people who drive while suspended and dangerous driving behavior that can hurt other people.
"I'm okay with my tax money going to put him in jail because he potentially could be a threat to people's lives," said driver Lisa Kipp. "Otherwise, what reason does he have to stop doing that?"
"Do whatever, but do something to be responsible for his suspensions," said Oja, who suggested community service as a possible punishment.
Ciarlante told KATU he has decided to stop driving illegally. He said a severe beating last year put him in the hospital, and he made a decision to stop doing drugs and change his life.
"Don't drive, kids, without a license. Pay them tickets, I'm telling you. Don't let them build up," said Ciarlante. "You gotta learn the hard way. That's what I put myself through, the hard way."