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Repeat drunk drivers still able to get plea deals

Eleven years of data analyzed by the Columbus Dispatch showed that those charged multiple times with operating a vehicle while impaired were able to get their charges reduced through a plea deal almost as often as those who had no recent drunk driving charges. 

Some say repeat offenders know how to beat the system. Drivers can refuse to submit to a breath test if they are pulled over by police. In 2009, defendants refused chemical tests in 36 percent of the cases handled by city prosecutors. In 2013, it was 41 percent. Without the results of such tests, prosecutors lack a key piece of evidence. 

"Despite a series of laws over the years that criminalized drunken driving for repeat offenders and made prison time mandatory, James R. Fisher has been arrested 12 times for driving under the influence since 1991," The Wilmington News Journal reported. "The 55-year-old's latest arrest, number 12, came in March, about a year after his release from prison after serving his sentence for a 2009 DUI conviction."

Read the full story here.

During most of the past two decades, the annual number of alcohol-related traffic deaths across the country has fallen by about 20 percent, to more than 11,500. More stringent drunken driving laws, widespread public education campaigns and safer vehicles have all played a role in that sharp reduction. In Oklahoma, however, it’s been a much different story.

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