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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 22, 2018

State finally suspends license of man convicted in texting-while-driving deaths

Suspension should have happened last year under law
By Trish Mehaffey, The Gazette | May 25, 2018

CEDAR RAPIDS — Convicted last month in a texting-while-driving crash that killed two teenagers, a Cedar Rapids man should have had his driver’s license suspended last year. But due to a mail glitch, it just happened last week.

According to Iowa law, Keith Furne, 35, should have had his license suspended in March 2017, after the criminal charges were filed in February.

The Linn County Court Clerk’s office sent a notification March 22, 2017, to the Iowa Department of Transportation, as filed in court records. But Iowa DOT officials told The Gazette this week they never received the paperwork in the mail last year.

Andrea Henry, an Iowa DOT spokeswoman, confirmed Furne eventually was given notice and his license was suspended last week, May 17.

But the fact Furne doesn’t have a valid driver’s license — or that he was convicted April 18 of two felony counts of homicide by vehicle and one count of reckless driving resulting in serious injury — is not currently having an impact on his employment with the city of Cedar Rapids.

City officials say a valid driver’s license isn’t required for his position as coordinator of the Tuma Soccer Complex, a public sector job that pays $31.09 an hour.

Furne returned to work with the city last month, following his trial and conviction.

Dennis Kleen, Iowa DOT’s Fatal Analysis Reporting System manager, said this week that the 62 clerks of court serving Iowa’s 99 counties mail or fax notices to the department’s motor vehicle division when a person has been charged with homicide by vehicle.

A warning then is sent to an offender, saying his or her license will be suspended in 10 days.

Kleen said he doesn’t know what happened in the Furne case, except the division has no record of ever receiving the court’s notice.

First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks, who prosecuted Furne, said he was contacted by the Iowa DOT last month and as a result sent verification of Furne’s charges to the department on May 1,

An Iowa DOT official told him that The Gazette had contacted the agency last month, asking about a possible suspension in light of Furne’s conviction.

Kleen acknowledged he couldn’t say this sort of mistake never happens, but doesn’t remember it being an issue.

“We probably have less than 20 suspensions a year for vehicular homicide,” Kleen said.

Kleen said once Furne is sentenced and the order is sent to Iowa DOT, his license will be revoked for at least a year.

Furne is set to be sentenced June 4 in Linn County District Court and faces up to 25 years in prison.

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