Many readers will undoubtedly be aware of our nation's many sex offender registries. These are publicly available lists that describe the names and addresses of all sex offenders in an area. What most readers might not know, however, is that Ohio recently attempted to create a similar system with people convicted of DUI.
The Ohio DUI registry was conceived with the same goal in mind - to shame those who have been convicted of a crime. In this case, one is placed on the DUI registry if they have been convicted of five or more DUIs within a space of 20 years. According to the senator who spearheaded the creation of the registry five years ago, the measure was intended to help the public and law enforcement officials.
Yet a recent report shows that the DUI registry may not be having the effect its creators were hoping for. According to The Advocate in Newark, Ohio, only about half of all Ohio courts are submitting DUI information to the registry's database.
It's not clear why so many cases go unreported, but The Advocate suggested it may be because many DUI cases are handled by multiple courts. The problem may be exacerbated by the fact that there is no penalty for courts who do not submit to the DUI database.
The list now contains about 520 names. Many of those names are duplicates or otherwise come with inaccurate information.
The registry was intended to be an aid to law enforcement officials and the public, as well as a deterrent for DUI offenders. Indeed, repeat offenders represent a great danger to the public, as these drivers have shown a clear reluctance to curb their behavior which could easily injure or kill an innocent driver or pedestrian. Ohio hospitals see hundreds of patients every year who have been injured due to the negligence of a drunk driver.
In light of the questionable efficacy of the DUI registry, the state senator who created it recently called for greater accountability among those charged with building it. It's unclear what sort of measures these would be, but it seems possible that the senator could push for some sort of penalty for courts who fail to properly report their DUI cases to the registry.
The Toledo Blade, "Newspaper: Ohio's DUI registry incomplete" No author given, Sep. 30, 2013