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Man driving while license permanently suspended facing felony charge

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man driving while his license is permanently suspended by the court for previous DUI convictions is now facing a felony charge.

The government claims that it was on a Saturday morning, May 16, 2020 when a police officer observed a four-door vehicle driving on the Utulei highway without a rear license plate.

The police officer pulled the vehicle over, and approached the driver, who  identified himself as Luki Netane, the defendant in this case.

The officer contacted the DPS dispatcher for more information regarding the vehicle and the driver. The dispatcher informed the officer that the license plate at the front of the vehicle did not match the vehicle he just pulled over.

The dispatcher further told the officer that the driver’s license of the person driving the vehicle had been permanently suspended by the court on Nov. 24, 2008 — after the driver was convicted for his 3rd DUI.

When asked for his license, the defendant told the officer that he forgot it at home. When asked if it’s true that his license was permanently suspended, the defendant said, no. Repeating that he did not have his license with him — it was at home.

Netane made his initial appearance in court last week where he was charged with one count of felony driving, a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

Bail was set at $5,000.

If he posts bond, the court ordered Netane not to drive any motor vehicle in American Samoa.

During his initial appearance, Netane waived his rights to a preliminary examination and his case was bound over to the High Court where he entered a not guilty plea to the single charge against him during his arraignment this week.

Pretrial conference is set at July 27th.