A Bridgeville man is behind bars after being charged with what would be his 11th DUI offense.
Ruppert Bell was arrested by Delaware State Police Saturday night after a trooper spotted the 77-year-old speeding and swerving into the opposite lane.
After running his information, police discovered Bell had 10 previous DUI charges.
Bell was taken into custody and charged for DUI, driving after judgment prohibited, driving while suspended or revoked, failure to remain in a single lane, and speeding.
Bell had three previous DUI convictions in 1987, one in 1989, two in 1990, and one each in 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2005.
So how does someone with ten previous DUIs manage to get behind the wheel? State Police Master Corporal Gary Fournier said it’s up to the state courts to determine the punishments for repeat offenders, including if and when they get the driving privileges back.
“We have no control over the convictions or the penalty phases of it,” he said. “We make the arrest.”
Delaware has laws in place to prevent repeat DUI offenders from operating a vehicle such as suspending or revoking their driver’s license, issuing fines, jail time, requiring driving courses, and installing interlock ignition devices that prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver is intoxicated.
In 2011, Gov. Jack Markell signed a package of new DUI reform bills into law including upping the penalties for repeat offenders, classifying the crime as a third-degree vehicular assault and implementing mandatory treatment for some offenders.
Still, DUI offenders can find ways around the rules and punishments and when that happens Fournier said troopers are just happy they’re able to stop them before more damage is done.
“I think, hopefully I did my job this time and thankfully no one was killed,” he said.
According to DUIrealtime.com, 3,489 people in Delaware have been arrested for a DUI in 2013 and there have been 23 DUI fatalities.