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Smile, you’re on DUI Web site

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Posted: Wednesday, December 14, 2005 9:54 am

Driving drunk now comes at an even higher price — public shame. Sobering Sentences, a Web site created by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, displays names and faces of people convicted of driving under the influence.

It also tells stories of children killed by drunken drivers, and flashes photos of fiery crashes and disfigured faces.

"If these people feel embarrassed to have their pictures up, then frankly that’s tough," County Attorney Andrew Thomas said. "Maybe other people tempted to drive drunk will see this and realize this is the type of fame they would rather not have."

The Web site will display only convicted offenders, focusing on extreme or aggravated DUI offenses. The photos will be changed


"I certainly think it seems a little gimmicky," said Scott Maasen, a Scottsdale defense attorney. "This is the same thing we see with Sheriff Joe’s jail cameras, and you don’t see crime rates going down."

"Everyone on here has been convicted, but this appears to us to be an additional punishment imposed by the (county attorney), not a jury, judge or Legislature" said Dawn Wyland, interim director of the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. "The (county attorney’s) job is not to sit around and figure out additional ways to punish people."

Web sites that display sex offenders in a similar manner are authorized by statute, Wyland said.

The Web site also has:

• Links to DUI statutes and organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

• Statewide news about drunken driving.

• Information about penalties for DUI convictions.

• Suggestions on ways to prevent people from driving under the influence.

"It’s not something we’ve actively pursued, but it’s not something we are against," said Chuck Heeman, Arizona executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

"It’s hard to say if it will work, but we hope it does," he said.

"People are not only looking at jail time and fines, but will face the sobering sentences of the hall of shame," Thomas said.

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