DUI License Plates
By Lucas Sullivan Staff Writer Wednesday, October 01, 2008
State law has required judges to issue the plates since 2004 to convicted drunken drivers who registered higher than 0.17 on a breath-alcohol test or have multiple DUI convictions and still need a car.
“It is meant to be one of the tools in the toolbox like (DUI) checkpoints,” said Lindsay Komlanc, spokeswoman for the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Judges have had the discretion to issue the plates since 1967. A law passed in 2004 was supposed to take that discretion away and made issuing the plates mandatory for certain offenders.
But some judges, including presiding Dayton Municipal Judge John Pickrel, have concerns about the plates. “I think it’s unfair for other family members who need to use the car,” Pickrel said. “Now they have to drive with those plates on the car. You’re sort of punishing the innocent.” Miami Twp. police Maj. John DiPietro, who oversees local drunken driving checkpoints, contends many judges aren’t familiar with the law.
“They aren’t issued as much as they need to be,” DiPietro said.
Pickrel disagrees. He added that DUI offenders often plea down to lesser offenses, so judges don’t have the option of issuing the plates. “They can say they weren’t advised properly on their first conviction or we recognize there are some deficiencies in the first case,” Pickrel said. “I think you have to look at those numbers carefully before making an accurate judgment.”