New Oklahoma DUI Database Helps Police Track Offenders
TULSA, Oklahoma - Oklahoma's new DUI database is active and already helping police departments across the state to track offenders better than before.
Every time someone is convicted of a DUI in the state, they pay a $15 penalty that goes to help support the database, and we're just beginning to see what the state is doing with that money.
Stopping repeat DUI offenders has become a priority for Oklahoma.
"And that happens unfortunately too often," said Fred Clark, Creek County chief deputy.
Clark said for smaller communities, keeping track of DUI offenders hasn't been very easy.
"Not being a court of record, sometimes I'm afraid that some arrests will fall through the cracks," Clark said.
That's because most local municipal courts are not courts of records and the information is not accessible to officers.
"We may not know of a previous DUI arrest," Clark said.
But the new DUI database is changing that.
It requires DUIs be reported to courts of records and sets up a system that any officer in the state will be able to access and see someone's DUI history.
"A lot of people that get arrested the first time, they learn their lesson and it doesn't happen again. But you have some that will not learn their lesson," Clark said.
The database already has more than 1,500 active cases from the 46 agencies and 2,500 law enforcement officers enrolled.
"We sent some deputies to start the training, and they'll come back and start training all the rest of the field deputies to start and get them ready for it," Clark said.
The state is also using the data to make a map, showing the point of last drink, or where the driver left from before being stopped.
Beneficial information for departments to do targeted enforcement and preventative outreach.
"Especially to more rural counties. Because we'll be able to tell where more of the drunk drivers are coming from, which areas to focus our enforcement on," Clark said.
Police agencies in northeast Oklahoma are being credentialed and the state hopes they will have access to the database later this year.