Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "drunk drivers" ...

  • Houston Chronicle: Out of Control

    When new residents of Houston first hit the roads, many come to the same realization: This is not normal. The highways are a labyrinthine mess. The motorists drive at extraordinarily high speed, often distracted. At night, drunk drivers weave in and out of traffic. Those factors lead to daily tragedy. Chronicle reporters knew the carnage was unusual. In 2016, they began investigating the scope of the problem. The findings: the greater Houston region was the nation’s deadliest major metro area for roadway fatalities, with more than 640 deaths annually – or the equivalent of three fully loaded 737s crashing and killing all aboard, every year. They found declining speeding enforcement, even as deaths rose. They also discovered similar results with DWI and distracted driving enforcement.
  • Free to Flee

    In Florida, drunk drivers are routinely not arrested immediately after they cause a fatal crash, even when there’s sufficient probable cause to arrest them. In many cases, the drivers remain free as the investigations drag on for many months, well beyond accepted standards. Our investigation found that dozens of drunk drivers have escaped justice and hundreds more were left on the streets for years before being arrested and convicted, with some committing other crimes while they enjoyed their freedom.
  • Impact Zones

    We crunched three years worth of drunk driving crash data for southeast Wisconsin to find places that are magnets for drunk driving accidents. We pinpoint the specific stretches of roads where you are most likely to be hit by a drunk driver. Through the personal stories of people hurt by these drunk drivers, we look for the reasons why police in these communities deal with so many drunk drivers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3at4fs5y1Ng
  • Escondido Police Under Fire

    Escondido, California, has a long history of discriminating against its large Latino population. For years the City Council had tried and failed to enact legislation that would make it difficult for Spanish-speaking immigrants, documented or otherwise, to take up residence there. But “Escondido Police Under Fire” uncovers how, in 2004, local legislators along with the Escondido Police Department found an ingenious way to rid the city of undocumented immigrants — and make a profit. In 2004, Congress gave the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funds to encourage states to get drunk drivers off the road. Escondido some of these funds and began one of the most rigorous Driving Under the Influence checkpoint programs in the State of California. The taxpayer funds allowed Escondido police to set up sobriety checkpoints several times a month. The stated goal was to catch inebriated drivers and to raise public awareness about the dangers of drunk driving. But Escondido police quickly discovered that they could make money by impounding the vehicles of unlicensed drivers. At the time, in California, if someone was caught driving without a license, their vehicle could be seized and subjected to a 30-day impound. In Escondido, the fees to retrieve the impounded vehicle were exorbitant. Escondido police began systematically asking every driver who came through a sobriety checkpoint to show a driver’s license. Escondido Police, the investigation reveals, soon brokered an agreement with Immigration Customs Enforcement to run background checks on all unlicensed drivers at the sobriety checkpoints to ascertain whether they were legally in the country. If a perfectly sober undocumented immigrant drove up to a sobriety checkpoint and could not produce a driver’s license — even though the checkpoints were being funded to get drunk drivers off the road — the unlicensed driver’s car would be impounded, ICE would run a background check, and the driver would be deported. Quickly, these federally funded sobriety checkpoints had become de facto immigration checkpoints — at an enormous profit to the Escondido police. From 2008 to 2011 the city of Escondido and tow companies with city contracts pulled in $11 million in fees, citations and auctioned vehicles from checkpoints. And hundreds of drivers were subsequently deported.
  • Unreasonable Doubt

    The Globe's team found that when accused drunk drivers waive their right to a jury trial and take their cases before a single judge, they are acquitted four out of five times- an astonishing statewide acquittal rate of 82 percent that is virtually unmatched in the United States. The Globe found that the acquittal rate by judges is 30 percentage points higher than the acquittal rate by juries.
  • Car seizures at DUI checkpoints prove profitable for cities, raise legal questions

    California law enforcement officials running sobriety checkpoints are more likely to seize cars from unlicensed sober drivers than from drunk drivers. Most of the drivers losing their cars are illegal immigrants.
  • Nevada DUI

    This investigation found a number of frightening facts, which could change many lives. One of the first findings is “judges have not been following a 1997 law that requires them to order the installation of interlock devices for all offenders convicted of DUIs causing death or substantial bodily harm.” Also, many previous offenders were convicted of a second DUI and had blood alcohol levels (BACs) considered of those with an alcohol abuse problem. Further, found that DUI offenders released from prison didn’t have their licenses restricted for three years after the conviction.
  • DUI Dilemma

    This story investigates how drivers with multiple DUI's are still driving, even when their licenses are suspended. In the course of the investigation it was discovered that "DUI enforcement is often a low priority with police, that deals are routinely cut when cases reach the courts, and that even drunk drivers who are sentenced to prison don't always do the time."
  • Falling Down on Drunk Driving

    This 10 part series revealed that while most states showed a significant improvement in drunk driving fatalities between 1982 and 2002, Missouri placed 30th. In Missouri, drunk drivers-even those who injure and kill- are usually punished with just probation and fines. Also, many offenders enter a plea in return of a 'Suspended Imposition of Sentence', which never becomes part of the public record.
  • DWI: Sobering Acquittals; DWI Dismissals: Wrecked Lives; Underage Drinking and Driving: Guilty? Yes. Punished? No.

    These stories reveal that North Carolina judges pardoned more than a third of those charged with drunken driving. Using databases from the courts and state alcohol test records, the reporters show how many drunk drivers were acquitted in court and returned to the roads to maim and kill yet more victims. Young drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 were acquitted and their licences were not revoked. Especially in the coastal counties of Carteret, Craven and Pamlico, the conviction rate is less than 15 percent.