Driving With Suspended License Catches Up to St. Louis Alderman

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Ward 21 Alderman John Collins-Muhammad. - VIA YOUTUBE
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  • Ward 21 Alderman John Collins-Muhammad.

Multiple unresolved traffic tickets — including moving violations and citations for driving with a suspended license — have caught up with Alderman John Collins-Muhammad. And while the 21st Ward Alderman had recently managed to avoid arrest in a St. Louis traffic stop, he wasn't so lucky this past weekend in Jennings.

As first reported by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Collins-Muhammad was busted for a traffic violation Saturday evening on Lindbergh Boulevard near Cougar Street. But it apparently wasn't the traffic violation that got him arrested. Instead, Collins-Muhammad was the subject of an arrest warrant issued fifteen months ago, in June 2016, in connection to a February ticket for driving without a license and failing to appear in court.

Collins-Muhammad was released early Sunday morning. However, the Post-Dispatch notes that other jurisdictions, including Jefferson City, appear to be eyeing the alderman for past warrants connected to driving with a suspended license.

Collins-Muhammad reportedly has outstanding traffic tickets in Pine Lawn, Ferguson and St. Louis.

From the Post-Dispatch story:
As of Monday, Collins-Muhammad had three outstanding unpaid tickets, according to the [Missouri Department of Revenue]: One from Pine Lawn for a speeding ticket issued in April 2011 for traveling 43 mph in a 30 mph zone; another from Ferguson issued in October 2015 for driving while his license was suspended or revoked; and another from St. Louis issued in May 2016 for driving with a suspended or revoked license. In that case, his license had been revoked in November 2014 after a number of moving violations and his failure to appear for court dates.

Last month, RFT was the first to report that St. Louis City police had pulled over Collins-Muhammad on August 14 on Natural Bridge Road. The officer let him go with a warning — despite the fact that the alderman was driving with a suspended license.

A St. Louis police spokeswoman clarified that Collins-Muhammad had not asked for special treatment. Still, the department said that it did not "sanction" the officer's decision to let Collins-Muhammad off scot-free. The department issued him a summons for driving on a suspended license on August 17.

See also: St. Louis Police Ignored Alderman's Suspended License, Then Reversed Course

Collins-Muhammad, 26, told the RFT at the time that he'd be clearing up the matter. He also said that he believes his traffic woes are a reflection of similar legal struggles encountered by young African Americans who rack up traffic tickets across the profusion of municipal courts in St. Louis County.

Those tickets and missed court dates can result in a suspended license, and subsequent missed court dates and warrants compound the problem to the point where getting pulled over for a minor infraction leads to an arrest.

"I am my constituents," Collins-Muhammad said last month. "Nothing separates from me from them. Me being able to walk into City Hall doesn't mean anything when I'm on the road."

After Saturday's arrest, Collins-Muhammad lashed out in a public post on his Facebook page, criticizing the Post-Dispatch's coverage and concluding, "In some parts of this region, its illegal to drive while black. Paint your skin & try it!"

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com



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