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License suspended 18 times, but Hernando man keeps driving

SPRING HILL — Brosnan Johnson managed to escape deputies the first time, speeding away Tuesday afternoon on Spring Hill Drive, they said.

"Having no regard for public safety," the deputy who gave chase noted in a report of the incident.

Three days later, Johnson didn't even bother trying to flee when deputies caught up to him on a traffic stop. He was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, driving with a revoked or suspended license, and fleeing and eluding.

But on his way to jail, Johnson allegedly made a promise that, so far, he's been good at keeping.

Johnson said "that when he gets out of jail, he will continue to drive and would most likely flee law enforcement again," according to the arrest report.

It's a situation that frustrates law enforcement officials and prosecutors.

Johnson, 24, of Spring Hill, has had his Florida driver's license suspended at least 18 times and had it revoked at least four more, according to a search of his driving record. He's also been arrested 11 times on charges ranging from simple assault on an officer or firefighter to cocaine possession.

Johnson was taken into custody Friday afternoon after the latest arrest. He was released Saturday after posting bail.

"He's definitely a flagrant violator," said Sgt. Donna Black, a spokeswoman with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office. "Unfortunately, that's not uncommon. Many people who have suspended driver's licenses think that doesn't prohibit them — in their mind — from driving."

It's unclear how Johnson found himself behind the wheel again Friday. But he has not been able to drive legally in Florida for quite some time.

As recently as Sept. 29, Johnson was labeled a habitual traffic offender. His driver's license was subsequently revoked for five years on Oct. 20. However, Johnson's license had also been revoked for five years in October 2006, revoked for three years in August 2006 and revoked for two years in October 2004.

In between, the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles had sprinkled in several suspensions. Johnson's first indefinite suspension came in Hillsborough County in July 2004 after he failed to pay a traffic fine. His most recent came in Hernando on Wednesday for the same infraction.

On Tuesday, Hernando deputies saw Johnson driving a car near Holiday Drive and New Hope Road. Aware of Johnson's checkered driving history, the deputy tried to initiate a traffic stop.

But Johnson allegedly fled once the deputy activated his emergency lights. The deputy let him go, writing: "Having knowledge who Brosnan was and for safety reasons, the pursuit was cancelled."

Deputies finally caught up to Johnson on Friday during a traffic stop at Linden and Coronado drives. During the arrest, deputies said, Johnson made comments about the chase that had taken place days earlier.

Deputies also found a number of boxes of rifle ammunition in Johnson's car before it was towed, another chargeable offense for a convicted felon.

Assistant State Attorney Rob Lewis, who didn't know the specifics of Johnson's case, said habitual traffic offenders are hard to get off the streets solely on charges of driving with a suspended license — one of the lowest-ranking crimes in the state criminal code.

"The suspended-license guys are frustrating," Lewis said. "We're very limited in what we can do to them. You would like to be able to hit some guys hard, but this guy is not going to stop driving."

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Joel Anderson can be reached at joelanderson@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6830.

License suspended 18 times, but Hernando man keeps driving 02/02/09 [Last modified: Monday, February 2, 2009 8:52pm]
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