Man arrested for fifth DWI ordered to ''drink no more alcohol''
PORT ALLEN - A man who was allegedly driving drunk in December and arrested for his fifth DWI appeared in a West Baton Rouge Parish courtroom Thursday for a trial that was supposed to begin for a different DWI he was issued last year.
The WBRZ Investigative Unit found Jonathan Nash had three prior DWI arrests in Illinois. But when his case was set to go to trial Thursday, it was for a first-offense DWI. Court records indicate that two out of the three DWI's in Illinois were valid convictions, and all were less than ten years old.
When the district attorney's office learned that information, Nash's trial was continued. As the continuance happened, WBR Judge Tonya Lurry told Nash she didn't want him drinking any more alcohol and said as part of his bond conditions he would need to wear an alcohol detection device.
"I want to applaud the DA's office for recognizing when it was brought to their attention to halt the prosecution that they had billed as a first [DWI]... To find out about the prior DWI's that are out of state," Valerie Cox with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) said. "Had it not been brought to their attention, justice would not have been served."
The district attorney's office said it was checking on Nash's prior convictions in Illinois. If they are valid, they can be used to enhance the possible penalties here.
Cox said what happened is very concerning. It once again shows the inadequate systems that are in place linking DWI arrests, not only statewide but across the nation, as Nash's Illinois arrests apparently didn't show up. The WBRZ Investigative Unit has been reporting on that issue for the past seven years.
"I wish there was a better system in place for us to be able to know whether a prior DWI is in Louisiana or out of Louisiana, because when this is not brought forth to the attention of a lot of people, it falls through the cracks and [they] are not prosecuted as they should be by law," Cox said.
In an interesting twist, the two DWI's Nash received in Louisiana were issued by the same state trooper in West Baton Rouge Parish.
Nash is due back in court in March.