Visalia to DUI Offenders Who Skip: You Cannot Hide!
Prosecution for drunk driving is not a simple matter of being pulled in to a station and placed before a judge for sentencing. Months can pass between arrest and trial. Because of delays, some offenders think they can get lost between the cracks if they don’t show up in court.
Police in Visalia, California decided to send a message to anyone trying to blow off a DUI summons: you can run, but you can’t hide. Recently officers held a warrant service detail, sending out officers to 45 homes to seek out California DUI offenders who had missed their court date. Four offenders were arrested during the operation.
Compliance is a key part of DUI enforcement. License suspensions are automatic with a drunk driving arrest in California, but suspensions are notoriously hard to enforce. In fact, statistics show that half to three-quarters of suspended drivers ignore the suspension at least on occasion. Some flout it altogether.
Ignition interlocks are another anti-drunk driving measure that depends on compliance for maximum effect. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. Currently four California counties mandate the devices for all drunk driving offenses, and in 2019 the entire state will. But ordering an interlock and ensuring its installation are two different things.
The best way to ensure that an interlock is installed is to have a probation officer certify the installation, or alert law enforcement if he or she does is not notified. Sobriety courts, which combine monitoring, probation and treatment, are an excellent means of ensuring compliance and also discouraging recidivism.
Until states get serious about better systems to ensure compliance with DUI court dates and ignition interlocks, measures like warrant service details will be necessary to keep the wheels of justice moving, and keep the roads a bit freer of drunk drivers.