Last Modified: Friday, July 27, 2012 7:34 PM
Earlier this month two people were arrested in separate incidents in the DeQuincy area within a 12-hour period and charged with fourth offense DWI.
Chances are that prosecutors may not have known the total of either suspects’ two DWI arrests or convictions because there is no statewide DWI tracking system in place in Louisiana.
That, though, could soon change.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving and district attorneys around the state are pushing for a computer system that would more readily identify previous DWI convictions and arrests from throughout the state’s numerous court jurisdictions.
A statewide tracking system would reduce the chances of someone being charged with fewer DWI counts than they have actually been convicted of.
Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier said the MADD proposal requires hiring either new people or piling more work on existing personnel in gathering the DWI statistics and entering them into a central data base.
He favors an alternate plan that is being embraced by all 42 district attorneys in Louisiana. Criminal statistics from each district attorney office would be entered into a data base and a modem system would allow every office access to the statistics.
‘‘The system monitors all cases — felonies, misdemeanors, DWIs, rapes, murders,’’ said DeRosier.
DeRosier said the system is probably still a year or two from going online. When it does, he says, his office ‘‘will run more efficiently.’’
Louisiana District Attorneys Association Executive Director Pete Adams said such a system would affect how prosecutors charged a suspect and how judges would sentence them if they were convicted of the current charge and the computer system revealed other criminal convictions.
According to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, alcohol-related fatal crashes in the state have dropped from 487 in 2007 to 291 last year.
Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, the executive director of the LHSC, credited the drop in a gradual change of culture in Louisiana.
But in a state where laissez les bon temps rouler remains a daily battle cry, any tool that will help keep drivers who have been convicted of multiple DWIs off the road is welcomed.
And an integrated system that tracks all crime could do just that, and more.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.