Keeping Track Of DUI Offenders

Among the most worrisome threats to the safety of the motoring public are habitual drunken drivers – men and women who continue to get behind the wheel while intoxicated even after having been arrested repeatedly.

To state officials’ credit, Ohio maintains a registry of people classed as habitual drunken-driving offenders, with five or more convictions for the offense. It allows Buckeye State residents to at least know whether someone in the category lives near them and may use the same streets and roads.

But even though the registry includes 5,331 names, it is dramatically incomplete, according to published reports. Information from courts in only 46 of the state’s 88 counties is included. Some repeat offenders are not on the registry, while others are listed more than once.

At least to judge by the number of men and women listed, the registry’s categories for Belmont, Jefferson, Monroe and Harrison counties seem complete. It may shock you to know the registry contains 57 names from Belmont County, 32 from Jefferson, 21 from Harrison and eight from Monroe.

That is a lot of habitual drunken drivers.

The number of repeat offenders – and remember, it takes five arrests or more to make the registry – is distressing. Here in East Ohio alone, 118 men and women have demonstrated they have no concern for their safety or that of others. Perhaps legislators should consider stiffer penalties, including longer jail and/or prison terms, for repeat DUI offenders.

In the meantime, however, the state Department of Public Safety should continue its efforts to upgrade the registry, with the goal of ensuring it is comprehensive.