Specialized License Plates for Drunk Drivers

Ohio Yellow PlatesOver the past several years, no less than four states have attempted to pass legislation that would mandate specialized license plates for repeat driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) convictions in hopes that the plates would increase road safety. There has been much voiced dissent in each state regarding the stigma the plates may generate, however, Ohio’s legislation passed the bill proposed in their courts, and since that time, drivers who have been convicted of DWI or DUI twice in a ten year span can be ordered to place yellow license plates on their vehicle – “red-flagging” them to police, and to the public. 
 
The bill in California, Assembly Bill 2099, failed in courts just a few months ago. AB 2099 would have required anyone convicted of DWI or DUI more than once in a 10 year span to purchase red license plates for every vehicle they were registered to operate, and at $250 per plate, legislators worried about some being able to afford the plates. Their concern also surrounded the stigma that would accompany driving with the plates. Some argue that’s what the guilty deserve, while others fear for any other family members who will be improperly targeted if driving these red-plated cars. The bill, although many felt was good in theory, was found impractical and the terms overly strenuous, leading to its defeat.  
 
While California has no legislation allowing for these specialized plates just yet, Minnesota and Georgia have joined Ohio as states that mandate coded or colored plates for repeat offenders. With the increasing popularity of this method to curb drunk driving, it will not be surprising when more states follow suite. 
 
The most recent bill proposed in New York asks not for red or yellow plates, but rather a code of either letters or numbers, the belief is that the validity of complaints regarding the “red-lettering” of the public will decrease if the plates look the same with the exception of this DWI or DUI repeat conviction “code”. The guidelines stating who is required to attach these plates are also more lenient than the bill proposed in California. The bill in New York asks that someone convicted three or more times in a five year span be required to wear the plates. 
 
Regardless of those state legislatures that have not passed the proposed DWI and DUI plate bills, their popularity, whether liked or disliked, is on the rise and states across the nation will certainly be meeting them with ever increasing frequency. 
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