Lack of Arrest Information Cited for Repeat DUI Offenders



Last July, a Texas man was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving four times in three states in less than two weeks. This occurred once each in Nebraska and Wyoming, and twice in South Dakota. Because each state allows first-time DUI offenders to post bond and walk without going before a judge, this man was free to continue on his way. While this may seem problematic to those of us who have recently been made aware of the story, it is all the more troubling that he was allowed to go because officials had no idea he’d been arrested in other states for DUI.

The lack of a national system like those for sex offenders has state officials dismayed. Often they have no idea what a person has done beyond their state borders due to jurisdictional differences. Unless someone has been fingerprinted and that information is entered in a timely fashion, they may slip through without paying anything more than a low bond. This is how this individual was able to get arrested twice three days apart in South Dakota without raising alarms – the information hadn’t been entered into the state system where it would have been available to the arresting officers. Instead, he was charged with a first time DUI offense on both occasions. The day after his second arrest in South Dakota where he paid a $500 bond, he was arrested in Wyoming. Now, because he has failed to appear for multiple court dates, there are warrants out for his arrest. A possible lesson learned.

While some officials have said that the more someone is arrested for DUIs, the higher the bond, this probably won’t stop serial drunks from getting behind the wheel. However, this may all change with the recent introduction of N-DEx, or National Data Exchange. N-DEx is designed so that local, state, and federal records of individuals arrested for DUI are linked. It will gather information such as the arrest and incident report, any incarceration data, and probation data nationwide. It is hoped that by linking the system, someone arrested in Washington State (for example) would not be able to get away with a first time DUI offense in New York six months later.

N-DEx is slated for nationwide use by 2010, but it is already in place in Oregon. While the N-DEx program’s participation may be gradual, and it is up to each state’s jurisdictions to put in what will be seen nationally, the FBI believes that it will eventually be extremely useful.

According to MADD, there are nearly three million drivers on the road who have three or more DUI convictions, and these drivers are some of the most dangerous on the road.