As reality television continues to dip into unchartered territories of crude and obnoxious subject matters, the addition of a program highlighting drunk drivers seems like a natural evolutionary step.
According to a recent article from Reuters, The Learning Channel (TLC) will soon begin airing a controversial new series called “D.U.I.” As its title suggests, the show will follow DUI drivers during and after their arrests.
Sources indicate that the show’s cameras will follow police as they chase down drunk drivers on Oklahoma highways.
Once the officers spot a potential drunk driver, the cameras will continue to follow the action “as viewers ride along through the process of interrogation, searches, lockup and the attempt to post bail,” according to the show’s producers.
The show intends to portray the “harsh reality” of a DUI arrest, as viewers will be able to watch offenders handle the typical procedure following a DUI, including the sentencing, any fines or jail time, and the potential damage to personal relationships.
The show, essentially, will be a DUI-related version of the popular series “Cops,” which has entertained home viewers with more than two decades of raw footage of police dealing with criminal suspects.
The DUI show, however, enters a new territory of bizarre. It will also undoubtedly raise a significant amount of controversy.
Some critics, for example, believe that the show might glorify DUI arrests, particularly if they highlight high-speed chases between police and suspected drunk drivers.
Since television shows cannot show chases that end in fatalities, the argument goes, viewers may be misled into believing that DUI chases are fun, exciting, and never fatal.
In addition, critics of the show believe that following DUI suspects through the entire criminal process is a gross violation of personal privacy. This argument, though, ignores the long-term success of “Cops,” which has survived similar criticisms and stayed on the air for several years.
Of course, the show also has its supporters. Some proponents of the series argue that, by portraying the cruel reality of a DUI arrest, the show is doing a service to other drivers.
If potential drunk drivers are able to see the severe consequences of a drunk driving charge through the drama of another person, they may be dissuaded from getting behind the wheel after having too many drinks.
To be fair, shows like “Cops” have not had a direct effect on crime rates, so the potential deterrent effect of “D.U.I.” will likely be small, at best. As the show’s producers readily admit, the most value offered by the show will likely come in the form of entertainment.
Still, the show may offer an interesting glimpse into the realities of drunk driving, as well as the aftermath of arrests for driving under the influence. That is, the show will be interesting for those who aren’t caught by the roving cameras.