News release from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH) today introduced the bipartisan DUI Reporting Act of 2016. This bill would close a reporting loophole that inadvertently enables repeat DUI offenders to be tried more leniently as first time offenders. The DUI Reporting Act would require, as a condition of full Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) funding, that DUI arrests are reported to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the national crime database that is made instantly available to police right from their patrol cars, so repeat offenders can be charged appropriately.
“It is shameful that all DUI arrests are not reported to the national crime database,” said Congressman Cohen. “The consequences of this lack of reporting can prove life-threatening. Last year there was a tragic accident just outside of Memphis. Two teenage girls on their way to a vacation were killed around 6:30 a.m. when the car in which they were being driven was struck by a drunk driver who had accrued seven DUI charges since 2008 but had been allowed to plead guilty five times to a first-offense DUI. This story broke my heart, and I believe the hearts of everyone in the Mid-South. Police need access to this information to get drunk drivers off the road, and repeat offenders need to be charged appropriately.”
“The threat posed to our nation’s families by habitual drunk drivers is incredibly serious, but there are steps we can take to improve this dangerous situation,” said Congressman Chabot. “For example, as currently construed, there isn’t a centralized list of DUI offenses that states can reference when determining the appropriate punishment for those convicted of driving while intoxicated. As a result, older convictions or charges from other states can get overlooked, which can lead to lighter punishments or a quicker restoration of driving privileges than the law would otherwise allow. By providing a more accurate and complete list of DUI convictions, this legislation will help make our communities safer by making it easier for states to keep habitual drunk drivers off our streets.”