The state has launched a new, enhanced registry to keep track of habitual OVI offenders.
The new database, unveiled by the Ohio Department of Public Safety last week, will contain information about individuals convicted at least five times of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and who meet certain other criteria established by law.
The registry, which is searchable and available for public view, was established from a partnership between the Department of Public Safety and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Officials said the new system automates what used to be a paper-driven process and produces a more up-to-date, complete and searchable listing of habitual offenders.
Several recent media reports had identified gaps in the registry, which was created in 2008. State officials said the upgrades dramatically improve the system and the results.
For example, instead of relying on local court jurisdictions to submit forms to add a habitual offender to the registry, the new system compiles the information automatically from already existing electronic records.
A state law created the registry and defined who should be included:
Anyone with five or more convictions during the past 20 years (at least one of the convictions must be since the law took effect on Sept. 30, 2008);
The registry does not include convictions more than 20 years old;
The registry does not include deceased people;
The registry does not include out-of-state convictions;
Juvenile offenses are included; and
If a single incident results in multiple impaired driving-related convictions, it is counted as one conviction for purposes of this registry.
The change came about just in time for the holiday season, which typically is among the most dangerous times of the year on the road, due to an increase in impaired driving. OSP has been out in full force this holiday season. Last year in Ohio, seven people died in OVI-related crashes between Christmas and New Year's, the OSP reported.