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April 3, 2011

Should citizens be able to look up drunk drivers along with sex offenders?

The question in the title of this post is inspired by this interesting new piece from the Bangor Daily News, which is headlined "Drunken-driver website proposal stirs debate." Here are excerpts from the piece:

More than 8,000 Mainers were arrested for drunken driving in 2009, the most recent statistics available, and Rep. Rich Cebra, R-Naples, says Mainers should know who those drivers are.  “I want a website at [the Maine Department of] Public Safety that will have their names and addresses and their picture,” he said.  “People need to know about drunk drivers that might be living next door and taking their kids to soccer practice.”

Cebra said his measure would establish the website so that Mainers could search their community to see if any neighbors are convicted drunken drivers, and whether they are multiple offenders.  He said it would be similar to the state sex offender website but would not be a registry.  “This would depend on the conviction information that is already being collected,” he said, “and I am proposing a $25 surcharge on every OUI conviction to pay for the website construction and operation.”

The measure has been referred to the Legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee and will have its hearing later this month.  Rep. Gary Plummer, R-Windham, the co-chairman of the panel, said he has a problem with any proposed websites to publicize a person’s conviction of any offense except the sex offender registry.  “We have looked at several other requests, whether it is animal abusers or arsonists,” he said. “Every site that we create like that is very expensive. We don’t have the money.”

Plummer also doubted whether such a website would have a deterrent effect.  He said those that drink and drive really don’t think about what will happen to them when they get caught even though fines and long license suspensions have been added to the penalties for drunken driving over the years.

Shenna Bellows, executive director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union, said that while the concern about drunken drivers on the roads is a real one that she shares, she opposes the website as a solution to the problem of protecting family members from drunken drivers....

Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, who served as secretary of state for a decade, said that while he supports the sex offender registry because of the nature of the crimes involved, he does not think a publicly available website listing those convicted of OUI would help with the problem of drunken driving....

But Cebra is not deterred by the opposition to his proposal. He said most Mainers are very upset at the number of drunken drivers who are back on the roads just weeks or months after being convicted of OUI. “What really gets me is the person who is that fourth-time offender that is only losing their license for 90 days,” he said. “This may not be the perfect answer, but we have to start looking at this; we are not being serious about this.”

Cebra said there have been decades of discussions about drunken drivers, and he said it is time to try to do something to reduce the numbers. He said too many families have had to experience a tragedy from a drunken driver killing or injuring a loved one to simply do nothing.

Regular readers know that I have long been troubled by the threats posed by drunk drivers and have long believed that communities ought to be as worried about drunk drivers as they are about sex offenders.  I am generally agnostic concerning the use of any crime registries unless and until research effectively demonstrates that they foster public safety.  But it seems to me that if they make sense for sex offenders then they also should make sense for drunk drivers.

A few older related posts on sentencing drunk drivers and criminal registres:

April 3, 2011 at 10:36 PM | Permalink


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I would say that the state should publish conviction data for all offenses, not just drunk driving, and as far as that goes the proposal makes sense. It is public information and should not be locked away in court houses behind a sign reading "Beware the leopard".

The expanded tracking of sex offenders is an entirely different matter that I am not so sure about.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Apr 3, 2011 11:34:59 PM

Current sex offender laws are hate crimes. There is no rationality but only rantings to lynch and cause further harm which appear to satisfy the mob mentality. Like John Walsh, Mark Foley, and Mark Lunsford continually lie about, you cannot cure sex offenders, but all three would be sex offenders with todays justice process. (Doug; before you remove me from your site, please show me where I am wrong in the preceeding sentences).

Lazy corrupt government, (prosecutors have god-like abilities to condemn innocent individuals) as decided by the SC, (Bill, I forget, Congress is GOD).

Why do we continue to be so stupid? Could it be government unions and Civil Service and public pensions?

Why are former prosecutor's the only members of the SC?

We are stupid as a country. China and India are cleaning our clocks.

When I was young, I thought it would be great if I could work for the DOJ, or determine the funding of science projects (CDC/etc.). When I got to college (seeing it in college) and private industry, I found private industry to be the most honest of the professions.

The Media lie!

And college's serve their own self interest!

Posted by: albeed | Apr 4, 2011 12:03:35 AM

When you stop all cars in the afternoon, 10% of drivers are legally drunk. Yet, only a few are impaired. Driving too slowly and carefully is taught as a reliable sign of drunk driving, not driving recklessly. Most of the impaired are impulsive, irresponsible, and selfish like other criminals.

This registry is yet another repetitive human experimentation without scientific validation of any benefit, save sweeping a larger fraction of the population than sex offenses into a huge money making machine for the government. I am sure there will be alternative offered to the registry, all involving huge fines and not being listed. This registry is clutter.

I propose a registry of people who propose criminal registries. All product and service providers refuse them service. They are expelled from all commercial stores, restaurants, from all churches, from all clubs, and neighborhoods. They are excluded by landlords even if they have a lot of money.

Before Prof. Berman says, he has heard this remedy before, we have heard the proposal of another criminal registry, an unvalidated paper work solution that has not reduced other crimes, such as the snatching of children who never return. Without any study, just logic, Megan's Law would not have helped Megan after she innocently answered her door bell.

Here is the only remedy that would have saved Megan: 123D, starting the count at 14. Megan and the many other victims, known, and unknown of that single predator. However, 123D would end crime in the US, by attrition, and along with crime, lawyer jobs. Will never happen until the lawyer is excluded by an Amendment from all benches, legislative seats and responsible policy positions in the executive.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 4, 2011 12:13:40 AM

Al: The left does not rebut.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 4, 2011 12:23:57 AM

Written by a young African:
When I born, I Black,
When I grow up, I Black,
When I go in Sun, I Black,
When I scared, I Black,
When I sick, I Black,
And when I die, I still Black.
And you White fella,
When you born, you Pink,
When you grow up, you White,
When you go in Sun, you Red,
When you cold, you Blue,
When you scared, you Yellow,
When you sick, you Green,
And finally when you die, you Gray.
And you calling me Colored ??

Black or White, Left or Right ..... we co-exist as equals, and if we have differences they are skin deep and therefore of no significance. Those that argue otherwise, and try to create division, are the greatest threat to society and should be ignored. When you clear your mind of the baggage, it's amazing how difficult issues are more easily rationalized, and humanity empowered.

Sorry, in a philosophical mood :).

In response to the article, at best, registers are a simplistic irrelevance to the underlying issues, and deflect attention and resources away from the positive measures that would reduce offending; at worst they cause injustice, danger and misery. I need be neither black or white, left or right, to see that with absolute clarity.

Posted by: peter | Apr 4, 2011 9:02:07 AM

"Plummer also doubted whether such a website would have a deterrent effect. He said those that drink and drive really don’t think about what will happen to them when they get caught even though fines and long license suspensions have been added to the penalties for drunken driving over the years."

I think the good Representative is missing the point. I don't care if the drunk drivers are deterred (although that would certainly be a good thing), I just want to know who I need to be on the lookout for!

Posted by: Alex | Apr 4, 2011 9:15:40 AM

Drunk driving is very lucrative and reliable source of revenue for localities. They now have a conflict of interest. Any effective remedy will decrease revenue. So, expect show remedies such as registries, and not effective ones.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 4, 2011 9:50:06 AM

Auf Grund der Verordnung über die Polizeiverordnungen der Reichsminister vom 14. November 1938 (RGBl. I. S. 1582) und der Verordnung über das Rechtsetzungsrecht im Protektorat Böhmen und Mähren vom 7. Juni 1939 (RGBl. I. S. 1039) wird im Einvernehmen mit dem Reichsprotektor in Böhmen und Mähren verordnet:

§ 1. (1) Juden (§ 5 der Ersten Verordnung zum Reichsbürgergesetz vom 14. November 1935 - RGBl. I. S. 1333), die das sechste Lebensjahr vollendet haben, ist es verboten, sich in der Öffentlichkeit ohne einen Judenstern zu zeigen.

(2) Der Judenstern besteht aus einem handtellergroßen, schwarz ausgezogenen Sechsstern aus gelbem Stoff mit der schwarzen Aufschrift "Jude". Er ist sichtbar auf der linken Brustseite des Kleidungsstücks fest aufgenäht zu tragen.

§ 2. Juden ist er verboten,
a) den Bereich ihrer Wohngemeinde zu verlassen, ohne eine schriftliche Erlaubnis der Ortspolizeibehörde bei sich zu führen;
b) Orden, Ehrenzeichen und sonstige Abzeichen zu tragen.

§ 3. Die §§ 1 und 2 finden keine Anwendung
a) auf den in einer Mischehe lebenden jüdischen Ehegatten, sofern Abkömmlinge aus der Ehe vorhanden sind und diese nicht als Juden gelten, und zwar auch dann, wenn die Ehe nicht mehr besteht oder der einzige Sohn im gegenwärtigen Kriege gefallen ist;
b) auf die jüdische Ehefrau bei kinderloser Mischehe während der Dauer der Ehe.

§ 4. (1) Wer dem Verbot der §§ 1 und 2 vorsätzlich oder fahrlässig zuwiderhandelt, wird mit Geldstrafe bis zu 150 Reichsmark oder mit Haft bis zu sechs Wochen bestraft.

(2) Weitergehende polizeiliche Sicherungsmaßnahmen sowie Strafvorschriften, nach denen eine höhere Strafe verwirkt ist, bleiben unberührt.

§ 5. Die Polizeiverordnung gilt auch im Protektorat Böhmen und Mähren mit der Maßgabe, daß der Reichsprotektor in Böhmen und Mähren die Vorschrift des § 2 Buchst. a den örtlichen Verhältnissen im Protektorat Böhmen und Mähren anpassen kann.

§ 6. Die Polizeiverordnung tritt 14 Tage nach ihrer Verkündung in Kraft.

Posted by: NickS | Apr 4, 2011 10:12:35 AM

Nick: Thanks.

First, the campaign against minorities broke the written statutes of Germany until revised in secret meetings in 1943. Lynchings in our American South did the same. Both were driven by a business model. Both seized the assets of well to do members of minorities to give to lawyers and judges. The courts had to enable these campaigns as Legal Realists. That's right. Our Legal Realists are the legal twin siblings of the Nazi Judiciary. One difference. They had a lone dissenter; he was offered the choice of retirement or the firing squad. We have no dissenter.

Second, the lawyer today runs a tighter ship than the Gestapo. You cannot even say a joke at work, without getting reported and jeopardizing the survival of the enterprise.

Lastly, the Nazis believed in astrology, non-religious supernatural doctrines. Our lawyers are persuaded of religious, supernatural doctrines from Scholasticism. Astrology is false but lawful. Scholasticism is false and religious, unlawful in our secular nation.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 4, 2011 10:43:08 AM

I disagree with registries in general. Specifically ones made available to the general public.

A person could make an argument for the S.O. registries if, and only if, they were limited to the worst of the worst. They are so inclusive now, they serve no purpose whatsoever to the public. Rather they are a political tool to win elections and funding when used as part of a scare tactic.

I believe that once a person does their time (whether it be probation or jail time), then that person should have the same expectation of privacy as anyone else. Any legal issues should be handled privately between the offender and police.

However, if some sort of warning must be done, then a colored license plate is probably the cheapest and easiest route to go.

I would throw in a couple of things though. Limit it to DUIs only. Once you start diluting the idea with colors for S.O., tax dodgers, drug dealers and so forth, then the idea becomes useless.

I would also limit the plate to being caught so many times within a certain period. Let's face it, people are going to go out and have a few drinks. To brand a person on the first time seems draconian to me. If they get picked up 3 times in as many months, then Houston, we have a problem.

Just my two cents worth. Take it for what its worth.

Posted by: Questions Authority | Apr 4, 2011 11:22:57 AM

The devil is in the details. Most states have a two-tier system of drinking and driving laws. There are the lower, non-criminal impaired laws and the criminal DWI/DUI laws. Unless someone's BAC is too high, the offenses are generally plea bargained right away and done away with. If the proposed database is only for those convicted of the criminal DWI or multiple offenders than the system might promote plea bargaining. This may be a good or bad thing depending whether you think this type of pressure is just.

On the other hand, if this system is used for all convictions-- impaired offenses and DWI, then the database would be an utter failure. The prospect of having one's name on a database (for god knows how long) would deter plea bargaining. All defendants would force the government to prove its case. This would waste judicial and prosecutorial resources. Anyone with the means would make sure they fight tooth and nail -- motions to suppress, testing the breathalyzers, testing the officer's veracity. Most cases would go to jury trial.

Please THINK. Politicians have DEMONIZED and LEVERAGED DWIs for their own political advantage. This is pure politics.

Case in point. Look at Kathleen Rice who was elected DA of Nassau County, NY, because she demonized DWIs. She uses a hammer when a slap on the write would suffice. She sues offenders and makes them forfeit their cars. Meanwhile, when she was running for AG, it became know that she used to do cocaine college! So she is imperfect like the rest of us, but now she pretends she is pure and all those who make a mistake of driving after a few drinks pay dearly.

Driving under the influence is such a complicated social problem: (1) driving is inherently dangerous and anything that slows down response time makes driving more dangerous (texting anyone?); (2) one need not be extremely intoxicated to destroy lives — two or three glasses of wine is enough; (3) people from all walks of life drive under the influence — mothers, fathers, police officers, firemen, teachers, etc. (I know many NYPD officers who regularly drink and drive). Cops turns a blind eye to their "brothers."

My personal opinion is that shaming is not the best way to deter driving under the influence. A better strategy may be to foster understanding of this complicated problem.

Posted by: Mike | Apr 4, 2011 2:50:13 PM

horse hockey! if it's legal for sex crimes it's legal for alcohol crimes

They need the same punishments that are now legal against sex criminals after their conviction

No living or working within 2,000 ft of a bar, night close and lounge or anywhere else alcohol might be!

They need 2 inch orange letters across their license that says "DRUNK!"

Plus they need to go back to 1970 or so and apply these "CIVIL Regisry Requirments" on anyone ever charged or convicted of abusing alcohol!

Posted by: rodsmith | Apr 4, 2011 4:00:57 PM

Thanks for your share,thanks a lot.Good luck!

Posted by: Big pony | Apr 11, 2011 6:02:14 AM

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