According to data from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, one in eight drivers in the state gets behind the wheel without valid driving privileges.
The news report found since 2008, there were nearly 310,000 convictions statewide for violations related to driving without a valid license – more than half occurred in the seven-county metro area.
In addition to having no license at all, related violations include driving with a suspended, revoked, cancelled or disqualified license, along with driving with a learner's permit without a licensed driver present.
The story points out a highly-publicized crash in November where a car occupied by five small children and a 23-year-old driver veered off an entrance ramp and plunged into a holding pond in St. Louis Park. Two of the children did not survive.
Marion Guerrido, the mother of three children involved, was in the driver's seat with only a learner's permit. No criminal charges have been filed in the case, according to the report.
The Minnesota State Patrol told reporter Trisha Volpe that invalid drivers are twice as likely to be involved in fatal crashes than valid drivers.
Last summer, 24-year-old Jessica Hanson was hit and killed while riding her bike in Uptown after a car sped through a stop sign without its lights on at night. The driver, 25-year-old Abdrihaman Ali, had a cancelled license. Ali was charged with criminal vehicular homicide.
WCCO says with millions of drivers on the roads, the problem is not easy to solve.
"Unfortunately, a lot of it has to be self-regulated," State Patrol spokesman Lt. Eric Roeske said.
WCCO points out that traffic violations aren't the only reason drivers lose their licenses. In Minnesota, non-driving violations such as unpaid child support can also lead to privileges being taken away.