The Legislature's Considering Creating a Public Drunk Driver Registry. Should They?

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Publicly shaming convicted sex offenders is nothing new. Relatively few people object to their names and photos being plastered on the Internet as a scarlet letter tattooed to their foreheads for all to see. There's a plausible argument to be made that this helps promote public safety by alerting neighbors and the community to a potential threat.

But what about drunk drivers? Do they deserve to bear the same mark of shame as child molesters and rapists?

That's the question being debated today in Austin as the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee considers state Representative Richard Raymond's HB 133, which would create a searchable database -- names, photos, addresses and birthdays included -- of anyone convicted of certain "intoxication-related" offenses.

The offenses that would earn such a public shaming are: DWI; DWI with a child passenger; intoxication assault; and intoxication manslaughter. Raymond offers a rather conspicuous exemption for anyone convicted under the Texas penal code of assembling/operating an amusement ride while intoxicated, a clear pander to the drunk carnie lobby.

A drunk driver database wouldn't really cost anything, according to an estimate by the Legislative Budget Board. But is it a good idea?

Scott Henson, writing at Grits For Breakfast, thinks not, lumping Raymond's bill in with a measure that would place extensive restrictions on sex offenders' social networking use.

In any event, this is a counterproductive ploy borne of haughty, short-sighted puritanism bereft of Christian forgiveness. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's, The Scarlet Letter, the protagonist, Hester Prynne, found that her public labeling as an adulteress became "her passport into regions where other women dared not tread." Similarly, applying this sort of digital signage of shame may actually promote further misconduct by excluding those listed from polite company, preventing interactions with those who might lead them toward righteousness and confining their online interactions to a silo of sinners.

It's hard to argue that Raymond's measure has any use other than public shaming, but the focus, Henson suggests, should be on treatment, rehabilitation and education.



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31 comments
enufsenuf
enufsenuf

I have paid for the crimes of my past and have learned from them. Chastising me publicly will do nothing productive for me or you. When I made the choice to drink and drive, I knew what the consequences were. So being ridiculed publicly will not prevent anyone from making that decision.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

We can't even stop convicting innocent people for something as important as death penalty cases.  I have no confidence that someone who is convicted of a lesser offense is at all actually guilty of it.

texasdave601
texasdave601

I'm sure that if you want to know the criminal history of a given person, especially here in Dallas County, it's as easy as visiting official government websites and searching the ALREADY EXISTING (read that as "funded and operational" if you like) criminal records databases.  Want something a little more substantial to work with, then visit the TDCJ's webiste(s) for an even more extensive, and - again - already funded and operational, webiste of criminal activities.  You're already payng for these, go ahead and use them.

garlandsucks
garlandsucks

why the hell can't there be one of these for deadbeat dads? 

garlandsucks
garlandsucks

why cant they have one of these for deadbeat dads?

garlandsucks
garlandsucks

why cant they have one of these for deadbeat dads?

casiepierce
casiepierce

A DWI stays on your record forever. So if, say, you were 17 and made a stupid mistake, paid your dues, learned your lesson, corrected the error of your ways, never did it again, then you should still be somehow shamed, er, punished for it 20 years later?

cantkeepthetruthdown
cantkeepthetruthdown

Libtards are always trying to shame people they disagree with. Especially those who haven't even committed a crime. You know, like those evil wacissses and homofoobs that say mean things on the internet! 

MiddleAgedMan
MiddleAgedMan

Of course, should this come to pass, some well-connected People of Quality will ensure that their DWI is not to be found in the database. This IS Texas, after all.

Daniel
Daniel

Please, that picture is fucking disturbing. For Christ's sake, replace it with the the jaunty visage of a jolly drunk. NOW. 

gritsforbreakfast1
gritsforbreakfast1

"There's a plausible argument to be made that [the sex offender registry] helps promote public safety by alerting neighbors and the community to a potential threat."

No, there's really not. Thanks for the linkage, though.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

Tarrant county already posts the names of no refusal weekend DWI arrests.  Honestly most of that info is already there, you just have to hunt it down,  all they want to do is make a stop shop for shaming people

Daniel
Daniel

@garlandsucks Fact: Eighty-five percent of deadbeat dads must endure the shame of living in Garland. What, you want to make them wear clown shoes, a dunce cap and lady's panties on the outside of their pants, as well? 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@cantkeepthetruthdown libtards hate the act, the perception.  Funny, Jesus really wanted us to "love our enemies" and "our neighbors as ourselves--regardless or race, nationality or tribe."  It's called socialization.  I know you confuse that with socialism, but, trust me on this, they're different.

garlandsucks
garlandsucks

@Daniel @garlandsucks I think Daniel is either a. in arrears right now over 5k or b. has an "arrangement" with the mom that he doesnt pay and never sees his kids...fuckin asshat

garlandsucks
garlandsucks

@Daniel @garlandsucks castration would be my solution, also punishing their fuckhead mothers who allow them to live at home and pay all their bills, your from arlington arent you?

Daniel
Daniel

@garlandsucks @Daniel Fuck you, you piece of shit. For the record, I have a grown son and not only did I never miss a child support payment, I paid more than the court ordered, by a goodly amount ... I'd be surprised if 1 in 1,000 dads do that. One in 10,000, even. 

Sorry about your daddy issues. The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree, though: You're a white trash piece of dog shit. It's probably the deep-down bitter knowledge that you're human garbage just like your dad that makes you such  a dick.

garlandsucks
garlandsucks

@Daniel @garlandsucks I also have fucking seen that if your mom and dad belong to the same social upper crust club in tarrant county as the judge, you can be a deadbeat dad and never pay a dime for years and nothing will fucking happen to you.

Peterson
Peterson

@Daniel @Peterson Politicians rarely have good ideas, and on the rare occasions they do, the compromise-laden process of legislation usually dilutes them into moderately awful ideas.  You're right about scoring cheap points, but the underlying issues are serious enough that the citizenry tends to like the flashy solution over the real and steady reform required to make social progress on these issues. I'm mostly joking about prison time, but it would probably sell in certain political markets, yes?

garlandsucks
garlandsucks

@Peterson @Daniel bingo, peterson....imagine the savings to the tax payers if moms got what they were supposed to.  Medicare slashed, food stamps slashed, tanf slashed

Daniel
Daniel

@Peterson @Daniel Thanks for the info. You seem to know what you're talking about. The cynic in me can't help but think that domestic violence, deadbeat dads, drunk drivers, etc., are exceedingly safe ways for politicians to score points with little fear of sparking controversy. No doubt, these things are legitimate social ills. So was crack in the 80s. The politicians could hardly jump fast enough to best each other proving how "tough on drugs" they were. Results? Not so efficacious.

I remain very skeptical of measures like this. I doubt the motivations of the politicians who propose them, and I'm wary of unintended consequences. But that surely doesn't mean I'm defending the criminals themselves. 

Peterson
Peterson

@Daniel  Spend some time doing intake at a poverty law clinic. It's a parade of moms trying to support kids whose dads are tens of thousands in arrears, purposely unemployed, underemployed, working off the books, or flat out on the run from their obligations. These families are surviving on AFDC, TANF, SNAP, Sec. 8, and Medicaid/CHIP. The taxpayer is on the hook when deadbeat dad can't be bothered to support his own children by the sweat of his brow.  And that "pipeline to prison" we're always talking about. It's jammed full of kids who dads are absent and irresponsible. Our failing schools, and failing kids? How many of them suffer because mom is doing everything she can to make it on her own, and is too tired or too overwhelmed to help with homework or to go to parent-teacher conferences? Such a scheme as I propose, might encourage the deadbeat dad to prefer double shifts at mcDonalds on fry station to breakin' rocks in the- hot sun..etc. Might solve more social ills than you imagine. 

Daniel
Daniel

@Peterson @Daniel @garlandsucks 

If they have  a job, I might suggest that they have their wages garnished, rather than be removed from the labor pool. Best interest of the child and all that.  But if that doesn't satisfy Peterson's personal sense of vengeance, then hell, the jurisprudence system could tattoo a "D" on their foreheads and make it perfectly legal/socially acceptable/a national pastime to pitch eggs at them, anywhere, at any time -- a grocery store, a crosswalk, a movie queue. You only get a second throw if you actually hit the D spot. Hit five deadbeat dads' D-spots and you get a $5 gift certificate to Wal-Mart or a cheap pocketknife. 

Another social ill solved!

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@cantkeepthetruthdown @scottindallas hey jackass, you don't have to presume the existence of either Jesus or God to arrive to the universal principle of the Golden Rule.  But, it's clear that you don't really ascribe to much of any morality or ethos, in argument or by example.  You're a selfish, narcissistic adolescent. 

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