Among the most worrisome threats to the safety of the motoring public are habitual drunken drivers - men and women who continue to get behind the wheel while intoxicated even after having been arrested repeatedly.
To state officials' credit, Ohio maintains a registry of people classified as habitual drunken-driving offenders, with five or more convictions for the offense. We get the part about even drunk driving once is an egregious offense. You see the blotter page of the Salem News - containing the arrest and court reports - sprinkled daily with the names and penalties imposed on drunken drivers.
But the idea of listing those with multiple offenses is commendable. It allows Buckeye State residents to at least know whether someone in the category lives near them and may use the same streets and roads. We list the site address below.
But even though the registry includes 5,331 names, it is dramatically incomplete, according to published reports. Information from courts in only 46 of the state's 88 counties is included. Some repeat offenders are not on the registry, while others are listed more than once.
The category for Columbiana County lists 59 names. Mahoning County has 115. That is a lot of habitual drunken drivers.
The number of repeat offenders - and remember, it takes five arrests or more to make the registry - is distressing. Perhaps legislators should consider stiffer penalties, including longer jail and/or prison terms, for repeat DUI offenders. In the meantime, however, the state Department of Public Safety should continue its efforts to upgrade the registry, with the goal of ensuring it is comprehensive.
Ohio's Habitual Drunken Driver Registry can be found on the Internet at: ext.dps.state.oh.us/omvi/