Yellow License Plates for DUI Offenders?

The Seattle Times reports that a bill has been introduced in Washington state that would require convicted D.U.I. offenders to use fluorescent-yellow license plates for a year after their driving privileges are restored. The bill’s sponsors see the license plates as a means of informing law enforcement that the driver has a history of D.U.I.s, and a signal to other drivers to “give a wider berth” to the potentially dangerous driver — not to mention providing an added disincentive for would-be drunk driving. Though whether the threat of public embarrassment serves as a good enough incentive to change behavior remains to be seen.


betsyross

as a paramedic, i have been in contact professionally with drunk drivers for over 25 years and i never, never met one who did not try to deny/rationalize/justify/excuse/minimalize/laugh off their behavior, which is responsible for over 20,000 deaths a year in this country and countless billions in medical and legal expenses. think of the human suffering of having a loved one struck down senselessly by a drunk driver. so let's give them yellow license plates, expose them to a little more scrutiny; shine a little light on these frequently chronic offenders.

4000 dead american soldiers in iraq in 5 years, 20,000 deaths a year to drunk drivers.

i'd like to see the driving records of those on this blog springing to their defense.

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I can understand this posters view as there are clearly many unnecessary deaths attributable to this problem; however, this solution is actually unconstitutional anyway. Once an offender has paid his 'debt' to society in this country, the slate SHOULD be wiped clean - and 'innocent' until proven guilty unless and until there is sufficient evidence that another crime has been committed.

Also, MADD has a somewhat liberal standard in publishing it's statistics with respect to the amount of true alcohol related deaths - even going so far as counting alcohol related deaths as those with even passengers in automobiles involved in accidents. And we have lost over 40,000 lives alone since 911 through illegal immigrant felonies against the general population, yet a good many of those Republicans and Democrats who are branding and penalizing even first time offenders (especially with the BAC now at .05 in some states) with such 'cruel and unusual punishment.' The fines, fees, increased insurance costs, affects on credit and job employment, etc. and fact that even one DUI conviction or no contest plea is on your rap sheet for life (even after 10-20 years with no repeat offenses), is greater than even grand theft auto, or aggravated assault, or any other violent crime - whether or not there is either injury or property damage involved.

There are already felony jail sentences for ANY DUI resulting in property loss or injury, and in some states any death involved is now considered second degree murder, rather than vehicular manslaughter.

The punishment should fit the crime, and even the founder of MADD has left the group, since it was the habitual drunk drivers which were the initial focus of this group - not the business lunch crowd or occasional party goer.

There is a solution - why not mandate that starting within the next few years, all automobiles must have a interlock device. There would then be no legally 'drunk' drivers on the road, the taxpayers money would be better spent on criminal convictions or trials for true felons - the rapists, murders and thieves among us. Don't think that will happen, as the DUIs now set at .05 are bringing an awful lot of additional revenue to the cities and states (and also federal grant monies). The impaired (yet not drunk) drivers, speeders and other misdemeanor traffic offenders are actually the tax payers who are funding probation departments, the city and state police, and courts and judiciary.

And now, even jury trials have been removed in many states although the constitutional guarantees a right to trial by jury for ALL criminal acts, and especially now with the punishments now inflicted for even first time offenders - fines, automatic removal of driving privileges (and thus the ability to even make a living in some cases), alcohol or AA related classes (for even first timers), mandatory jail sentences or community service, Victim Impact lectures, probation, random urine testing, interlock devices, and now yellow license plates.

What other crime is there such 'piling on,' and the revenue gained by the cities and states seems now to be more the goal, than truly letting the 'punishment' fit the crime. Habitual hard core offenders licenses and automobiles should be removed, and impounded - and any and all fines and fees assessed by the courts and inflicted should go to treatment programs or hospitalization for the disease itself (instead of additional charges for those), and directly to the victims in victim funds for any whose life or property has been directly impacted - not as money and revenue generators for the state, from which many may never recover, or at least will affected them for years to come(especially young people and others in a first offense).

First offenses should still be civil matters, and should not be categorized as criminal unless and until there is a 'pattern and practice' of such behavior in any second or subsequent offense within a reasonable (five year) period.

Just my opinion, but seems between this and seat belt violations, our neighborhoods are not being patrolled, and property theft and violent crime in most communities due to that fact is growing in leaps and bounds.

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JSN

It has been tried by other states and I think it may be an unused or seldom used sanction in Iowa. It is unfair to the offenders family and I am not aware of any evidence that it helps reduce OWI.

Jim

I think that this kind of overreaction is frequently a side-effect of the general population's frustration with slap-on-the-wrist punishment for serious offenses (and I consider DUI a serious offense). The comparison to sex offenders is valid. It used to be the case where a felon was considered to have "paid his debt to society" when released. Now, "sex offenders" (a term which covers many MANY sins) are frequently permanently stigmatized and ostracized, whereas (for example) a murderer is not; does that make sense?

Here's a suggestion: if an offender has committed such a heinous crime as to deserve continuing (even perpetual) punishment, why not keep him in prison? We come up with all these slap-dash solutions to patch a failed criminal justice system, when sometimes the (a?) solution would be to slow the revolving door.

Dennis Pagni

as a paramedic, i have been in contact professionally with drunk drivers for over 25 years and i never, never met one who did not try to deny/rationalize/justify/excuse/minimalize/laugh off their behavior, which is responsible for over 20,000 deaths a year in this country and countless billions in medical and legal expenses. think of the human suffering of having a loved one struck down senselessly by a drunk driver. so let's give them yellow license plates, expose them to a little more scrutiny; shine a little light on these frequently chronic offenders.

4000 dead american soldiers in iraq in 5 years, 20,000 deaths a year to drunk drivers.

i'd like to see the driving records of those on this blog springing to their defense.

WS

Why don't we just tatoo all criminals?

BE

DUI offenders are becoming the legal cousins of illegal immigrants. Who's going to stand up for them, and what politician ever lost votes by making their lives a little more hellish? Apparently this same kind of law is under consideration in Ohio, Florida, Maryland, Virginia (where I live) and other states. I'm all for making our streets safer, but shame on the people who cynically propose rules that have no proven basis in deterrence.

p.s. Sen. Carrell, I thought conservatives were into keeping government small and not interfering with private lives. Why does it always seem to be Republicans like you who bully up on the latest scapegoat?

andrew m

Ohio already does this

pcutt

The state cannot assume that the driver of the car will be the one who had the DUI infraction. For example, what if a family has one car and the adult owner was the one who was actually the drunk driver, but her children all drive the car. Seems like the innocent would bear the scrutiny of the state and the citizens for nothing they've done.

Jean Val Jean

@Gary.

No, but we do make sex offenders register and track them for the rest of their lives. You want to talk about unfairness?

jeff

Enforcement would be interesting for this to be effective that plate must be required on any auto driven by the person, otherwise:
- he'd simply register all cars in his wife's name.
- In addition, what about a rented car
- what about an auto driven for work- say a bus driver, sales person, or construction worker?

If the person was required to transfer the plate from car to car then the plate would not match the make and model of the vehicle it was registered to, and if the person parked auto one on a public roadway, the police would drive by, not see a license plate and issue a ticket or have the car towed.

One way to make it work would be to issue multiple plates to the person, once for each car. This does not solve the rental car issue though.

James

I'd much prefer a system in which people convicted of offences such as reckless driving and DUI had their licenses restricted by weight. Bad drivers gravitate towards larger, heavier vehicles to protect themselves -- but these heavier vehicles are much more likely to kill and/or seriously injure pedestrians, passengers and other motorists.

AaronS

How about "shame" license plates for the JUDGES who turn these menaces to society loose to, usually, get drunk and do it again?

If a man has a prior DUI and is given anything less than a 5-year in jail sentence, let's shame the judge!

Mike

Becker and Posner recently addressed the costs of drunk driving and suggested that overall they are on the order of $10,000 per DUI arrest, far in excess of typical DUI penalties.

I suggested the following modest solution to our university administration to deal with the perennial problems of parking and alcohol abuse on campus. A simple, roughly comparable penalty would be forfeiture of the vehicle used to commit the crime. My suggestion is that the University parking permit registration form be modified to include a pledge not to operate the registered vehicle while intoxicated. The pledge would be guaranteed by the title to the registered vehicle. By signing the pledge, the registrant would agree to turn over the vehicle to the UPD in the event of a DUI conviction. The language would be the same for faculty, staff, students and alumni. Parents not willing to gamble the price of a car on their student's good judgment could deliver them to campus and leave the cars at home. Football fans' diligence in selecting a designated driver would increase. The University would have a new revenue stream for enforcement, transportation and alcohol awareness programs. People willing to sign the pledge just might have an easier time finding a parking spot.

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Tim Rosenblatt

The State of Florida already has bright yellow license plates for state/city vehicles. Giving bright yellow plates to DUI offenders could see the Law of Unintended Consequences kicking in here.

Bob Petrine

Since I intuitively believe that there is an exceptional rate of recedivism among DUI drivers, any action to shame those drivers or inform other drivers might not be a bad thing. Consider that they're driving a 3000-4000 pound missile that could be aimed at you, a family member or friend.

Craig

If a yellow plate will make others give me a wide berth, then how do I get one? I loved it when, while in grad school, I drove around in a badly dented and badly painted old Buick. Everyone waived me through intersections and parking lots. I would drive a similar car, except that I can't get all the modern safety features in an old beater.

Craig

jim n

I think this is a question of recidivism. So far most of the steps taken by states have helped to reduce alcohol related fatalities. I think that if you can eliminate one drunk driving fatality, then it's worth it.

And being the father of a young daughter, I definitely want to know if there is a sex offender living in my neighborhood.

GLK

Let them create their idiotic laws and some wag will get rich creating a website with a name like, scoffatlaw.com. They'll have products like license plate frames with the slogans:

"I THINK THEREFORE I DRINK"

Or...

"HONK IF YOU'RE THIRSTY"

And...

"MY DRIVING HAS A DRINKING PROBLEM"

Last but not least...

"OF COURSE I'M AN ATTORNEY"

Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!!!!

Helen

Seems like a good idea at first, but loses its shine if you think about it a bit:

Say the car in front of you is weaving terribly, and you call 911 to report it. Would the cops come faster if you said it was a car registered to a DUI convict? If so, is that even a good thing? There are lots of drunk drivers who don't get caught, ever, and wouldn't get the tags - but they are just as dangerous as those with the tags. Further, the tags would probably lead to an increase in people calling just b/c they see the yellow tags, without any particularly concerning driving behavior: that would clog up 911 lines and dull responses to true emergencies.

If we see someone driving erratically, we already have all we need to know that we should give them wide berth. The cops should respond with equal fervor to calls about erratic drivers, regardless of the color of their tags. So all that's left with the yellow tag plan is shame and humiliation, misdirected at all people who use the vehicle registered to the DUI offender.

It's probably a low-cost project - just churn out some different colored plates with the exploitable prison labor the state has at its disposal - but there are almost certainly better ways to tackle the problem.

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Will

Why not just strip drunks of their licenses forever?