DUI Web site has lifesaving merits - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

DUI Web site has lifesaving merits

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Posted: Wednesday, December 14, 2005 10:14 pm | Updated: 7:59 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Would that it would be so that the image of one’s face, name and the words “DUI conviction” available on the Internet to virtually anyone might be enough to stop every inebriated person from getting behind the wheel of a car.

Of course there are those who don’t do much thinking about the consequences of drunken driving and thus it is no surprise that such folks are among the most prevalent drunken drivers.

But there are those with just enough of a sense of appreciation of the consequences of their actions who might just put the keys back into their pocket or purse and arrange for someone else to drive them home instead.

While they sleep it off in a passenger seat during that ride, somewhere out there on the streets is someone who would have lost their life absent such a mature, responsible decision — even if it was based on fear of ridicule.

This is the essence of Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas’ new Web site, “Sobering Sentences.”

Web users may visit www.stopduiaz.com to find photos and names — ensconced within the legal case title, “State vs. . . .” — of those convicted locally of driving under the influence, as well as a brief description of the offense. As such it would be available for friends, relatives, employers and co-workers to see.

The site may not result in an overwhelming wave of responsibility by those who have too much to drink. But it could be responsible for a ripple. Again, if it is your life that is saved by an over-imbiber’s decision to stay out of the driver’s seat because he or she is aware of this site’s notoriety, then you’d consider it worthy.

This is, of course, not the view of the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The Tribune’s Katie McDevitt quoted ACLU interim director Dawn Wyland as saying that Thomas’ job is “not to sit around and figure out additional ways to punish people.”

McDevitt also quoted Scottsdale defense attorney Scott Maasen as criticizing the site as akin to cameras Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has installed in the county jail. “This is the same thing we see with Sheriff Joe’s jail cameras, and you don’t see crime rates going down.”

It is not a “new punishment” to publish a public record, the very heart of the freedom of information available to every citizen as a check on government power. And volume should not be the determining factor in whether such a site should exist.

Maybe it will help to stigmatize an often deadly conduct that has not been given serious consideration by enough people. And if it does, even to a few who might otherwise have killed or injured others, it will have been right to have created it.

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