At some point, excuses are just not acceptable

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 28, 2004

If it happens once, I can accept the excuse of "I made a mistake."

Two times, maybe I can live with "It was bad judgment." But 10, 11, 12 times or more, an excuse does not exist to explain someone letting it happen again - and again, and again.

What I'm talking about is driving under the influence arrests. Each month, The Tribune receives a newsletter from the Ohio Public Safety Department entitled "Hot Sheet News." The four-page newsletter lists multiple DUI offenders throughout the state.

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The March 2004 newsletter, the last we received, has DUI arrests that occurred during the month of December 2003. Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol becomes a felony in Ohio on the fourth offense, but "Hot Sheet News" lists only those arrested on five or more offenses.

On the front page, under the heading "The Worst" (people with 10 or more DUI arrests), six people were arrested for their 10th or better DUI arrest.

Heading up the list were a pair of arrests by the Goshen Township (no county listed) Police Department where one officer, Ron Robinson, arrested one man for his 14th DUI offense on Dec. 23 and then arrested another man for his 15th DUI on Dec. 29.

The others who had the "honor" of being listed on the front page of the newsletter included a man from the Georgetown area and a man from the Wooster area who were each arrested for their 11th offense and a man in the Ashland (Ohio) area and a man from the Sandusky area who were each picked up for their 10th offense.

The inside pages are reserved for those who are considered "habitual offenders," or those with five or more arrests. The Ironton Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol picked up two such offenders, one on his ninth offense and one on his seventh. In all, a total of 46 people

in Ohio were listed as having been arrested for their fifth or higher DUI offense.

The information contained in "Hot Sheet News" comes from law enforcement agencies, so more than likely, even more multiple offense DUI arrests were made and not reported.

Studies show that as many as 75 percent of drivers who lose their licenses to DUI convictions continue to drive anyway, which raises questions about how Ohio deals with DUI offenders. To its credit, Ohio's law is tougher than most other states, but as this list shows, some tougher measures are needed for repeat DUI offenders.

I know excessive jail time for multiple offenders would cost the state a lot of money, but leaving these people on the road is even more costly.

Shawn Doyle is managing editor of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached by calling (740) 532-1445 ext. 19 or by e-mail to shawn