Virginia Man Facing 23rd DUI

Tracy M. Decker told the Virginia Police Officer he had not been drinking just before recording a .28 on a breath machine, prompting what will be at
least his 23rd prosecution for drunk driving, according to court
records.

Court records show Decker, whose license was revoked for an earlier
DUI, is also facing abuse charges because his four-year-old twins were
riding unbuckled in the back of his car. Police stopped the 33-year-old
man on Jan. 22 as he was trying to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge
Tunnel.

Decker’s most recent address is listed as an Oceanfront motel.

Decker’s lengthy drunk-driving record spans decades, according to bond
paperwork filed in Virginia Beach courts. That same paperwork declares
that Decker has “22 DUI convictions.”

However, according to court documents, Decker’s extensive history was
not revealed in two previous criminal cases, prompting Virginia Beach
judges to grant breaks in an earlier drunk-driving case and for an
unrelated conviction for disturbing the peace. Had the judges known, he
would’ve likely been in jail, DUI experts say.

It was not until his arrest last month that Decker’s full background
was noted in a court file.

“To get over 20 DUIs really blows my mind,” said Michael Goodove,
president of the Southside Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Goodove, an attorney, said he has never seen such a case. “The system’s
not perfect, but in this case, there are too many imperfections going
on.” Records show the bulk of the drunk driving convictions happened in
Alabama and Georgia.

According to court records, Decker moved to Virginia Beach sometime in
2002. By December of that year, he was facing a drunk-driving charge. But
the charge is listed in Virginia Beach court records as a “second offense” even though the real number was closer to 20.

Sgt. Scott Wichtendahl, a Virginia Beach DUI expert with close to
2,000 drunk-driving arrests to his credit, said DMV records in 2002 were
not as complete as they are today. He said it was possible then to gain a
clear Virginia drivers license by not revealing prosecutions in other
states.

The officer who stopped Decker likely did not know about Decker’s
history because it was not available through a DMV check, Wichtendahl
said. Decker’s past would’ve come up in a comprehensive criminal
background check, Wichtendahl said. But, the sergeant added, not all
officers pursue such time-consuming checks in what appear to be routine
cases.

As a result, General District Court Judge Virginia Cochran found
Decker guilty of the second offense, but let him go free because he had
already served about six weeks in jail, according to court records. That
release was granted upon several factors, including good behavior and
alcohol education, records show.

However, Decker failed to attend the alcohol class. Judge Cochran
reinstated the 12-month sentence, but Decker appealed.

In Circuit Court, Judge Thomas Shadrick waived most of that sentence.
Records show Decker had to serve about three months. There is no
indication in the court file that anyone involved knew of the dozens of
drunk-driving arrests.

About a year later, Decker was again arrested, this time for
disturbing the peace. Decker was sentenced to a year in jail, but only
had to serve 30 days on the promise he would attend an alcohol education
class. Records show he rarely attended and frequently tested positive for
drugs and alcohol. The judge ordered him back to jail and again Decker
appealed.

Circuit Court records show Circuit Court Judge Frederick B. Lowe had
more information on Decker’s background than previous judges, but still
not the full picture. Judge Lowe waived most of the punishment, sending
Decker to jail for three months instead of the 11 ordered in lower court,
the records show.

“I am surprised he is still alive,” Wichtendahl said, adding that most
hard-core drunk drivers end up dead, or in prison for fatal accidents.
“The system let him down, and more importantly, let us down as the people
who are on the road.”

Wichtendahl said officers now have access to the critical DMV
information that was apparently lacking in Decker’s first arrest.

“I would be really surprised if, in 2006, that a gentleman would get
away with the multiple offenses he is getting away with,” Wichtendahl
said.

Decker is in jail without bail. DUI experts say he faces a minimum of
one year in jail for the drunk-driving charge.

Source:

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Virginia Beach you will need to hire a Virginia Beach DUI attorney.

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