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December 30, 2011

Is a plan to "insta-shame" those arrested for drunk driving a good deterrence strategy?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by this new piece from a local Texas paper reporting on a program designed to deter drunk driving offenses during the holidays.  The piece is headlined "Drunk? Drive? Consider your good name," and here are excerpts:

If you drink and drive this holiday weekend, landing in jail might not be your only worry. You could also end up on the Tarrant County district attorney's website, for all the world to see that you've been charged with drunken driving.

The new DWI postings will be part of a "no-refusal" weekend aimed at taking drunken drivers off the road.  More than 25 law enforcement agencies and the district attorney's office will work together to speed up Breathalyzer and blood tests on suspected drunken drivers.

"We're hoping that this will deter people," Assistant District Attorney Richard Alpert said Thursday.  "We don't need more arrests.  We don't need more DWIs.  We are hoping for another fatality-free New Year's weekend."

Those arrested from 10 tonight through 5 a.m. Monday and officially charged with DWI will get their name posted on the website; no photographs will be used.  The no-refusal program will allow police agencies to rapidly obtain search warrants to draw blood from suspected drunken drivers who refuse voluntary testing.  Extra judges and medical personnel will be available to expedite the process.

District Attorney Joe Shannon said he hopes the program will encourage residents to forgo alcohol over the holiday or select a designated driver, rather than have to explain to relatives and friends "what you've been up to and why you didn't get home on time."

Defense attorneys, however, said the postings could violate the civil liberties of those accused of driving drunk.  "I absolutely condemn driving while intoxicated ... but these people are presumed innocent," attorney Richard Henderson said.  "I just don't think that's right."

Attorney Steve Gordon, president of the Tarrant County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, said the postings could violate state ethics rules for prosecutors.  "There are some people [members] who are very upset about it," Gordon said.  "Is he going to pull the information on the case when he loses?"...

The no-refusal program has been in use for several years on New Year's Eve and other selected holidays. Tarrant County has had only one fatality -- a July Fourth death -- since the program started, Alpert said. 

Last year, 67 people were arrested during New Year's weekend, a sharp drop from the close to 100 drivers in previous years.  Only 18 drivers refused to consent to blood tests, officials said at the time.  Tarrant County handles 5,000 to 6,000 drunken-driving cases each year, Alpert said.

Though it is hard to draw a firm conclusion from just this article, it sounds as though some of the touch techniques being used by law enforcement in Tarrant County are working to reduce drunk driving and associated harms. Consequently, "kudos" is my chief reaction to this story.

December 30, 2011 at 05:01 PM | Permalink

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Had an item reacting to this story on Grits this a.m..

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Dec 30, 2011 8:38:21 PM

I propose a website naming prosecutors and police officers who make false accusations, and refuse to accept tort liability for the damage these accusations have done. I would include as false any charge that has been reduced to a fictitious one in a plea bargain. Their home addresses, emails, supervisors' names should be included.

Because tort liability is a substitute for violence, immunity gives violence good justification, morally, intellectually, and at the policy level. The response should begin with a boycott of these false prosecutors by all service and product providers.

To prevent violence, I would like the legislatures to enact statutes allowing full tort liability for prosecutors and judges that hurt a plaintiff by their carelessness. To deter.

You may, with good validity, say, there is no evidence tort liability has ever improved a product or a service. Well, those who point fingers should clean their hands first. The same absence of validation is true about this pre-conviction shaming program.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 31, 2011 4:08:53 AM

Interesting. During the 1930's, my Dad drove a truck carrying nitroglycerine.

He was given his job duties and told to be careful. Violation was self-correcting.

Same with those who clear mine fields in Asia, Middle East, the Balkans, etc.

Perform your job as you are supposed to do. Mother Nature will get you if you do not.
~~~~~~~~~~~


"To prevent violence, I would like the legislatures to enact statutes ...."
Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 31, 2011 4:08:53 AM

Posted by: Docile Jim Brady | Dec 31, 2011 10:20:28 AM

Jim: These prosecutors and judges are in utter failure. They allow 90% of major crimes to go unanswered. When they have the person, some unconscionable fraction of the time, perhaps, 20% of the time, they have the wrong guy. When they have the right guy, in 95% of times, they have a fictitious plea bargain which allows ultra-violent organized crime members and psychotic thugs to go free after a short time. When mandatory guidelines drop crime 40% across the board, they reverse them, with Justice Scalia leading the charge against public safety.

Why are they so bad? To generate make government work jobs. So this incompetence is not just stupidity, failure, but in bad faith.

Torts liability will not help them improve. Torts has one real effect. It will shrink the entire enterprise. Get rid of these Ivy indoctrinated, Hate America meat heads.

Crime should be addressed by the population itself, in self-help. Everyone legitimate and adult should have a duty to kill the criminal at the scene of the crime. That duty would have prevented 9/11, where the enemy destroyed $7 trillion in our economy with an investment of $500,000, and the suicides of a few subhumans. Public involvement is a common denominator in all nations with very low crime rates, whether rich or poor, developed or still in the Stone Age. Public involvement is the sole common factor associated with low crime rates (verified by population surveys, not from lying police reports).

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 31, 2011 8:38:58 PM

The available research shows that this kind of "shaming" with those convicted of sex offenses via the registry has a BAD effect on recidivism -- the stigmatism and social isolation that follows this branding increase the odds people will reoffend. Why don't we stop trying to reenact modern versions of the pillory and start trying to do things that work -- if "deterrence" is a real concept for DUI, the $5k+ and employment / driver's license seems to be more than enough for most people...

Posted by: LRK | Dec 31, 2011 9:11:55 PM

Is there no due process concern with exacting punishment prior to trial/conviction??

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