JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Clifford Ringer has a history of traffic violations dating back to 1999 and even though his license has been suspended almost continuously since 2005 ,he has continued to drive.
“You always have to balance the facts the reasons why the suspension occurred, what the person was doing, and why they were driving against the standard this is against the law, and you have to be punished for breaking the law," said Attorney Mitch Stone.
Stone says some traffic tickets build on one another.
"He maybe had too many tickets, so he got a points revocation, then he drove then got a suspension, and as a result of driving on a point revocation then got a DUI," said Stone. "So his suspension got lengthier and then you have a habitual traffic offender."
None of those tickets prevented the April accident that left a man critically burned. Police say Ringer rear ended 23-year-old Gavin Conroy, causing a fire that burned 93 percent of his body and has since resulted in multiple amputations.
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“If you rack up a number of driving on a suspended license convictions then the state can and does at times file the charge as a felony and if they do that then the judge has the ability to incarcerate people longer," said Stone.
Stone says unfortunately putting people in jail for a suspended license doesn’t solve the problem.
“The concept that we are protecting the public by putting somebody in jail because they have a suspended license, and they have driven doesn’t resonate in the same way as somebody who is actually involved in dangerous activity," said Stone.
First Coast News reached out to the Clay County Sheriff’s office and did not hear back. We also reached out to the judge in several of these cases.
He declined comment.
However, we’ve learned that as recently as July 2, Ringer received yet another ticket. The latest one for running a red light.