LIMA — Four Allen County residents have at least seven arrests and convictions for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the past 20 years.
An updated website launched by two state departments on Friday makes this information more readily available to the public as part of an improved and more comprehensive database of motorists and boaters with five or more offenses of OVI.
“The reason we released this information today (Friday) is because there were gaps in the registry that were identified and brought to the attention of the Department of Public Safety,” Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Anne Ralston said. “As a result, we implemented some solutions, including moving away from a paper-driven system, which was basically relying on court jurisdictions to submit forms to us, to a new system that automatically transfers the information from existing electronic records into the registry. This paints a clearer picture of the habitual offenders in the state of Ohio and provides a more complete registry for the public as required by Ohio law.”
The site — online at ext.dps.state.oh.us/omvi — includes 211 names in a seven-county area.
The city of Lima has 64 of Allen County’s 80 offenders listed in the database, according to the website. Harrod has five offenders, while Delphos and Bluffton each have three.
Hancock County has 42 offenders listed on the site, with Mercer County having 33. Van Wert County has 18 habitual offenders, while Auglaize County has 15, Hardin County 14, and Putnam County has nine.
The original website, which was created by state law in 2008, relied on local courts to submit paper forms to add a habitual offender to the registry. Former state Sen. Tim Grendell, of Geauga County, proposed the bill in 2007 to create the website as part of piece of legislation to increase penalties and restrictions for repeat OVI offenders.
Ralston said this information is crucial to the public because “impaired driving remains a significant issue in the state of Ohio” and this provides the public “a good idea of who are the habitual offenders in their area, whether it be the city or the county that you live in.”
She said the information is pertinent now because in Ohio, seven people died in OVI-related crashes between the Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day holidays.
The website includes more than 5,300 habitual offenders which have been identified in the state of Ohio. The new searchable listing of habitual offenders can find people by name or county.
She explained the website could be used by the public or other law enforcement agencies.
Lima Police Lt. John Bishop said he understands the improved website should be better maintained by state officials and should help keep area residents more informed and safe.
“Our goal is to keep the citizens here as safe as possible, and this is one tool which we can use to do that,” Bishop said, sharing that Lima police officers even use the website to keep updated on habitual offenders.
Ralston explained this registry is required by law, while the DUI or OVI plates are court-sanctioned or part of a sentence administered by the judge.