Created on Monday, 30 September 2013 Written by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEWARK, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's online registry of repeat drunken drivers includes information from only about half of the counties in the state and doesn't include some habitual offenders, according to a newspaper investigation published Monday.
The registry of those who operated a vehicle while under the influence is meant to include public information about those convicted of at least five OVI offenses within 20 years, including at least one logged since September 2008. Only 75 courts from 46 of Ohio's 88 counties have submitted data since the registry was created five years ago, The Advocate in Newark (http://ohne.ws/1bW07Vg ) reported.
The registry now lists about 520 offenders, several dozen of which are duplicates, and some of the provided information is inaccurate. Those missing from the list include a Ross County man facing his 11th OVI case, a Licking County man behind bars for his ninth conviction and a Columbus man recently arrested for an eighth OVI charge, the newspaper found.
The Ohio Department of Public Safety maintains the registry with information submitted by courts.
"Whatever the courts send us, that is what goes into the database," Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Lindsey Bohrer said.
There is no penalty listed by law if courts don't provide the information.
Republican Sen. Randy Gardner of Bowling Green, who co-sponsored the measure that created the registry, said it was intended to help both law enforcement and the public.
"If there's a reason this isn't being utilized, we need to make sure there's some accountability," Gardner said.
It's not clear why some courts aren't submitting information, but one factor might be that charges are handled in multiple courts, the newspaper said. The clerk in Muskingum County, for example, said he didn't send information for the registry because lower courts that handle lesser offenses should have reported previous convictions.
Rob Calesaric, co-chairman of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers' DUI committee, calls the database a waste of money and time, and he notes that law enforcement agencies can check other records for a person's driving history, instead of the registry.
"That record has no value at all," he said.