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February 15, 2011

Washington state bill proposes branding of license plates of drunk drivers

As detailed in this local story, a state legislator in Washington is proposing a vehicular scarlet letter for drunk drivers.  Here are the details:

Representative Norma Smith of Clinton wants to require drivers convicted of DUI after 2012 to have a special license plate designated with the letter Z.  "It provides a tool for law enforcement… just to be aware that the car is registered to someone with a dui conviction and to provide a little extra scrutiny,” says Smith.

She believes the plates would also serve as an incentive to avoid repeat offenses.  Several states like Minnesota have a similar law in place, calling them “whiskey plates.”

But defense attorneys say the bill is a scarlet letter, putting unfair scrutiny for the majority of first time offenders never offend again.  "This is a once in a lifetime incident, they have learned a profound and painful lesson already and to stigmatize them further isn't necessary and doesn’t serve any useful purpose,” says attorney Stephen Hayne....

House Bill 1955 has already received support of the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs.

February 15, 2011 at 09:13 PM | Permalink


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I would like all license plates of lawyers to have a big L as first character. People would be encouraged, permitted, and immune if they ram the car, throw rocks at it, and try to drive it off the road.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 15, 2011 11:30:29 PM

I would prefer the license plates for some politicians start with P. IMO they are more deserving of the thrown objects as you describe.

Posted by: Jo | Feb 16, 2011 4:36:01 PM


Interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thank you.

Posted by: Federal Firearms License | Feb 16, 2011 10:56:18 PM

I think that upon a second DUI conviction, cars registered to the driver should be required to have pink tires. Much easier to identify than a single letter on a license plate. But then, I also think that a second DUI should lead to a lifetime suspension of driving privileges...

Posted by: John | Feb 17, 2011 10:31:28 AM

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