Officials Using New Tactics to Attempt to Curb DUI
By: Chris Kramer
Many if not most states now have searchable databases of convicted sex offenders online and available to the public. Texas and California have introduced legislation to also create a domestic violence offender registry in the interests of public safety. Countless other types of registries are also being created or considered. PI Magazine reported that other public offender registries include the Gun Offender Registry in Baltimore, Maryland, methamphetamine offender registries in Minnesota, Tennessee and Illinois and in Montana, convicted meth manufacturers are listed on the Sexual and Violent Offender registry. Violent offender registries also exist in several other states and legislation for a violent offender registry has been proposed in Hawaii. In Michigan, a driver's license can be easily checked for validity using the state's Repeat Offender Inquiry online.
With all of the criminal registries, it comes as no surprise that New Mexico now has a DWI (DUI) offender database online. This online registry allows users to search for the name of a person who may have been convicted of drunk driving, or view a list of people convicted of DWI in New Mexico for the selected year. This site accepts public donations from those particularly sadistic folks who would like to contribute to the humiliation of the drunk drivers and help fund the expansion of the site.
Outing Suspected DUI Offenders
Recently in Nassau County, New York, the names and mug shots of 81 people who were arrested for suspicion of DUI over Memorial Day weekend were published. Officials say that the photos and details of the alleged DUI offenders were released as a tactic to shame people into staying sober behind the wheel.
While it may be one thing to place the names and mug shots of people who have been convicted of a crime into a public database, it is an entirely different matter to attempt to shame people who have not yet been convicted of any crime. The humiliation and shaming efforts are actually not even very effective DUI deterrents, according to a report recently published by NewsDay.
The not-so-bright idea behind publishing the mug shots and names of DUI suspects was fueled by the theory that people would simply not risk a DUI arrest if they believe that they will be publicly humiliated when they are caught. Another benefit for officials was the bargain-basement cost of heaping public humiliation on those accused of DUI.
DUI Public Shaming = Permanent Humiliation
Most forms of punishment for DUI and other offenses come after conviction, because the notion of "innocent until proven guilty" is a fairly large cornerstone of American law. So, for the sake of argument, what if the public shaming was only to occur after a DUI conviction?
Even after a DUI conviction, public shaming is a type of punishment that, unlike other DUI penalties, does not end. A person who is publicly humiliated by authorities after a DUI arrest or conviction is not able to simply "do the time" as if they had gotten sentenced to jail, rehab or probation. The sting of being publicly shamed and humiliated would be particularly difficult to shake off, and that's precisely what officials believe will be a deterrent. However, there is no evidence that the public humiliation of DUI suspects is in any way effective at deterring drunk drivers or reducing the number of people who drive while intoxicated.
More Shame for DUI Offenders
Recently on Total DUI, we have highlighted other instances in which shame, humiliation and other seemingly bizarre tactics have been used to punish drunk drivers or as attempts to deter people from getting behind the wheel after they have had too much to drink.