Tennesse Drunk Driving

Tennessee enlists shame to fight drunken driving
By Associated Press Published January 1, 2006

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A new Tennessee law is enlisting the power of shame
to discourage drunken driving.

Starting today, convicted drunken drivers are required to do 24 hours
of roadside cleanup while wearing orange vests with the phrase: “I am a
Drunk Driver.”

The new law is aimed at first-time offenders, said one of its
sponsors, state Rep. Charles Curtiss.

“You cause them to go out and pick up trash in front of their friends
and neighbors, the embarrassment is going to be such that they’re never
going to want to go through that again,” Curtiss said.

But shaming offenders without more meaningful treatment programs could
have the opposite effect, said Jacqueline Helfgott, chairwoman of the
criminal justice department at Seattle University.

“If I’m forced to wear a sign saying that I’m a drunk driver, then I’m
going to feel worse and worse about myself and I may drink more and more
because I feel shunned,” she said.

Jeanne Mejeur, a research manager at the National Conference of State
Legislatures in Denver, said Tennessee’s law “is pretty much a unique
program nationally.”

Ohio requires yellow license plates for some convicted drunken
drivers, and other states use less obvious coding on tags to alert police
about DUI convictions. But those measures are targeted more at public
safety than shame, Mejeur said.

The bill becomes law today without Gov. Phil Bredesen’s signature.

“Although I am generally supportive of innovative forms of punishment
to address this issue, I am concerned about the possibility of reduced
jail time for DUI offenders,” Bredesen wrote to legislative leaders.

That is echoed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

“The best deterrent to drunk driving is jail time, not community
service,” said Laura Dial, Tennessee’s MADD director.

SOURCE: St. Petersburg Times

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