November 24, 2010

California Beach Considers Posting DUIs to Facebook

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Facebook and other social media sites are playing a much larger role in the way that lawyers and lawmakers publicize information. Now, according to an article in the LA Times, officials in Huntington Beach, California, have sparked a new debate surrounding DUI information and the social media giant.
Officials in Huntington Beach are considering posting the names of suspected drunk drivers on the city’s Facebook page.
This potential tactic of publicly putting those arrested for DUI to shame by spreading their names online would be one part of a broader campaign to discourage drunk driving in the community, according to Lt. Russell Reinhart of the Huntington Police Department.
The idea came up in a City Council meeting, when Councilman Devin Dwyer put the idea on the table for police officials to consider. He posed the idea as a response to the local newspaper’s lapsed practice of publishing the names of those facing DUI charges.
“I didn’t think public shaming for driving under the influence was such a bad idea,” Dwyer told the LA Times. “I would use any tool necessary to bring down the numbers of drunk drivers.”
This isn’t the first time that a police force has had the idea, and it’s part of an aggressively anti-DUI campaign.
Other parts of the campaign include committing more police officers to focusing their attention on drunk driving arrests, and sending written notices to drinking holes and bars when someone is arrested who was patronizing the establishment.
Huntington Beach is known for its alcohol-related incidents, and what the LA Times calls “a sudsy reputation.” There were almost 1,700 DUI arrests in 2009, and 274 collisions that were attributed to alcohol impairment. These figures put it in the top tier for cities around the same size in California in terms of drunk driving and alcohol-related crashes.
A report from the city referred to the situation as “a significant DUI problem in Huntington Beach.”
Understandable, then, that officials would be willing to toss around the idea of a more direct way to get drunk driving suspects into the public eye, in hopes of deterring others from deciding to drink and drive.
Publicizing the information isn’t necessarily scandalous, as it is already public information. “Anybody could go to the counter, get it and put it on their own web page,” said Lt. Reinhart.
These won’t be the first efforts made. In similar attempts to curb the combination of booze and driving, police banned beer pong and other alcohol-related games at bars in the city’s downtown area.
The City’s attorney will review the Facebook proposal, to make sure there are no legal problems with it.


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The acronyms DUI, DWI, OMVI and OVI all refer to the same thing: operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The most commonly used terms are DUI, an acronym for Driving Under the Influence, and DWI, an acronym for Driving While Impaired.
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