Serial drunk driving - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Serial drunk driving

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CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) -

It seems to be more frequent that police are arresting drunk drivers who have DWI records. Following an arrest that happened Thursday morning, Captain Chris Guillory of Troop D explains why there are multiple convicted drunk drivers behind the wheel.

Officers are trained to give standardized field sobriety tests to drivers they feel may be impaired.

"We arrest somebody probably everyday for a DWI," said Louisiana State Police Troop D Captain, Chris Guillory.

Troop D of the Louisiana State Police made about a thousand impaired driving arrests last year.

Most recently, 39-year-old John Hernandez failed his Thursday morning and was arrested. He was later charged with DWI fourth offense.

In Louisiana, there's only four.

"First and second are misdemeanor offenses. When you reach DWI third that is a felony offense and DWI fourth is a felony offense," explained Guillory.

Records indicate Hernandez was arrested for vehicular homicide in 2006 and arrested twice in 2011 for DWI's.

So how is it that someone like Hernandez who has so many DWI arrests can still be behind the wheel?

Guillory says it's not an easy answer but he did give an example.

"Just because you're arrested multiple times in a one month period we may charge you each time with first offense, until it gets to the district attorney," said Guillory. He continued, "I mean they can prosecute the very first arrest as first offense, and then when the next comes, two weeks after the first one, they can amend it from first to second. And that's how you progress up the ladder from a misdemeanor to a felony."

Guillory says DWI laws have changed significantly in Louisiana over the last several years. And they've worked closely with the District Attorney's office to modernize those laws.

"One feature they were very supportive of getting passed was the no refusal warrant system," said Guillory.

But serial drunk driving is becoming more common. Last month 58-year-old David Prater and 33-year-old Michael Miller were also arrested for DWI fourth offense. Both have previous drunk driving records, which means another look at the books may be needed.

Could the issue lie with the judicial system? KPLC will continue to look into the issue of serial drunk drivers, next week.

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