The recent report of a Raceland man arrested for his 10th driving while intoxicated offense should raise alarm bells in this community.

A system that allows one person to get behind the wheel of a car illegally 10 times is clearly failing and puts both this driver and everyone else on the road in mortal danger.

That drunk driving is a problem is not in dispute. Louisiana has consistently ranked in the top 10 states for alcohol-related traffic deaths, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. In 2016, the last year for which statistics are available, 225 people lost their lives is alcohol-related traffic incidents in the state. Thirty percent of all traffic fatalities in Louisiana involved alcohol-impaired drivers, and almost 70% of all DWI fatalities involved drivers whose blood-alcohol level was almost twice the legal limit.

We are willing to concede that this case is an anomaly, and while we do not have all the information on the results of this person's previous nine DWIs, those charged with protecting the public safety simply have to do better.

There is no excuse for one person to be this dangerous to the public safety this often. To allow a case like this to slip through the cracks puts lives at risk.

This is not necessarily, or solely, a law-enforcement issue. The police did find him breaking the law 10 times. It's what happened afterward that needs to be re-examined.

There is no simple answer. While "lock him up and throw away the key" can be a tempting if easy response, life imprisonment for a driving offense does not address the root cause of the offense nor does it deter other alcoholics from getting behind the wheel when under the influence.

Somehow, at least 40 of the other 50 states have figured out how to do it better. Some combination of rehabilitation, deterrence and punishment must be better than what Louisiana does now.


-- Editorials are the opinion of this newspaper and not any single individual.