August 13, 2012

Lack of state DWI system hampers tracking

With 291 alcohol-related fatalities in 2011, Louisiana’s alcohol-related fatalities are above the national average. Developing a statewide DUI tracking system, an idea that gained traction in 2004 and then subsequently lost support, is now regaining popularity in an effort to curb this trend.  This proposed system would link the databases of several of the state’s criminal justice agencies, creating a network in which agencies can access information such as criminal histories, arrest warrants, fingerprints and mug shots across the state, and make the information available to laptop computers in squad cars. Supporters note several benefits: a statewide tracking system would reduce the potential for someone to slip through the cracks and be charged as a first-offender, for example, when that person could have been charged as a second-offender. Also, more accurate information on the front end allows prosecutors to make informed charging decisions, which in turn affects judges’ sentencing decisions.

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