Some say it reminds them too much of the “The Scarlet Letter,” but the Colorado State Patrol (CPS) is taking public input on creative ways of branding or identifying motorists who have been arrested for DUI. CPS put out a poll on the “scarlet letter” idea, the 351 results gave mostly mixed responses. The largest percentage, 40%, believed DUI offenders should be publicly identifiable while 33% believe they should be only be marked after two or more DUI-related convictions. 20% of those polled believed there should be no identifying markings and 7% believe they should be identified only in special circumstances. According to CPS, the tweet was intended for drivers to think about the consequences of their actions and the CPS has no intention of branding DUI offenders.
A local news affiliate further questioned Denver residents about marking DUI offenders with more mixed responses. “If you’re going through a green light and (the drunk driver) runs a stop light, you’re never going to see that license plate identification to let you know that that’s who did it to you,” said one driver.
Both CPS and the Colorado State Legislature have made enforcement of DUI laws and stepping up enforcement a top priority. The State Legislature recently approved a statute that makes someone convicted of a fourth DUI to be automatically charged with a felony. The Colorado Department of Transportation and CPS have also been jointly involved in the “Heat is On” campaigns. The campaigns ramp up DUI enforcement around holiday weekends and other random times. In 2018 CPS states there have already been over 800 DUI-related arrests.
Charging a driver with a felony DUI is certainly a deterrent, but public shaming would take DUI penalties to a different level. “I don’t know what it would solve,” said Colin Nicholson, a Denver driver. “Would it make people not drink and drive because they saw a license plate with a marker on it that said this (other) person did?” Most interviewed don’t believe that any type of marking on a license plate would keep them from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated and that it wouldn’t help the public be any safer.
Lawmakers did not respond when asked if a “Scarlet Letter style” punishment would be something they’d consider.
Thank you to the DUI attorney team at The Frankurt Law Office for filling my readers in on this important issue.