The numbers add up and in Minnehaha County they are too high. DUI tickets remain all too common on the streets.
“Of the 10,000 cases we open up a new file on, probably 2,000 or more will be DWI cases,” Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Aaron McGowan said. “So it's a significant portion of our caseload.”
About 60 percent of those cases involve first time drinking drivers, according to McGowan. The others are repeat offenders. McGowan says the county has toughened up its repeat DUI policies. His office has even used grant money to pay for extra staff to prosecute the cases.
“We’ve done everything we can to be more aggressive, more efficient, more successful in those cases and we will certainly continue to do so,” McGowan said.
The total number of prosecutions dipped slightly last year. In 2012, his office has prosecuted more than 1200 DUIs, 786 of them are first time offenders. The rest were at least second offenses.
Darren Boomgarden, 41, is accused of driving drunk and hitting and dragging a motorcycle early Saturday during a crash that killed Tracy Handel, 36, who was a passenger on the motorcycle police say Boomgarden hit.
“If somebody is combative, belligerent, if they hurt somebody, if they're going to wrong way on a road, specifically the Interstate, if somebody is injured, we look at all those circumstances.” McGowan said.
Of all the other DUI arrests, this year, the state's attorney says nearly 180 of them are either third, fourth, or fifth lifetime offenses. They will likely rise as 2012 continues, making numbers that are already too high go even higher.
“I would love to be out of work in Minnehaha County and have zero DUIs. That is not and will never be the reality,” McGowan said.