Look Into The Eyes Of A DUI

January 18th, 2011 | 1 comment | Posted by Diana




The Huntington Beach City Council in Huntington Beach, CA votes tonight on a proposal to publish the mug shots of repeat DUI offenders on the city’s Facebook page.

HB–a 200k-person town with a high douchebag content–is a town I know very well from my years growing up in Orange County. With a downtown area packed with bumpin’ bars, the city apparently ranks number 1 of 56 similar-sized SoCal cities for the highest number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities–in 2009, 195 people were killed or injured and there were 1,687 DUI arrests.

Now, let me pause for a second and say that I write this post during a visit to my “second home” of a small town in Oregon, and just discovered that a well-known local idiot with priors hit and killed a 26-year-old woman who was walking her bike home from work last week in Portland. He was stupidly driving two friends home, shitty drunk and speeding. After spending much of today reading online reports about his charges and the fallout of her death–the bikers’ blog posts, the grieving statements from her family and friends, the public vigil–I am filled with a deep sense of sadness, anger and frustration. I hate the story. I hate that the former slaps on the wrists and multiple friend interventions never hampered his alcohol intake and poor choices. I hate that an innocent person is dead, gone forever from everyone who loves her, because some dude was having a rad, ragin’ night.

So I am in a particular state of mind while considering whether or not the Huntington Beach proposal is a good idea.

Is public shaming ever effective? According to AP reports, which cite multiple short-lived attempts to maintain similar Facebook-photo-shaming campaigns in other cities, the jury is still out. Opposition of this proposal is high–for a variety of reasons–even though it is legal for police to publish arrest photos. But I can’t help but wonder if the potential for web humiliation, however unsavory it may seem, could motivate friends and family members to press harder on someone who’s showing a habit of driving under the influence. Maybe the thought of being publicly shamed–because it could threaten their relationships, career, and future–might be just enough to keep someone with a prior to call up a cab. Maybe even just one person, who might otherwise slam their two-ton vehicle into the body of a woman walking home, might not turn on the ignition when they’re sauced.

Maybe.

And maybe that would be worth it.

[SCPR: Huntington Beach considers posting DUI arrests on Facebook]

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One Response to “Look Into The Eyes Of A DUI”

  1. turkfontaine says:

    Marshall Mcluhan knew the world was becoming a global village, he just couldn’t have known the internet was going to be the extended central nervous system, or how soon. and what do we know about villages? that villagers are nosy.

    Garrison Keillor described his semi-fictional Lake Woebegon: “it was a town where, if you had a taste for whiskey, the neighbors knew what kind, and to what extent.”

    hell yes, publish the DUI perps on the web and give everybody Groupon’s for logging on to look at them. it’s our peers who help keep us in the straight and narrow.

    a community connected is a community committed to a common vision of morality and acceptable behavior. we lose something when we opt for anonymity and call it privacy.

    i think of Richard Pryor’s wino, standing in the middle of the street on Sunday morning, yelling at driver’s to slow down; “this is a neighborhood. it ain’t no residential district!”

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