Police in Huntington Beach, California are considering a new tactic in the fight against drunk driving–Facebook.
Recently, the surf town just south of Los Angeles was ranked as the top spot in the state for alcohol-related traffic fatalities, and they don’t like it. In an effort to curb repeat offenders, Huntington Beach officials want to post the mug shots of drivers who have been caught driving under the influence more than once. They are hoping that public shame will serve as a wake-up call for drivers not to drive drunk.
“If it takes shaming people to save lives, I am willing to do it,” said Devin Dwyer, a city councilman who proposed the new effort. “I’m hoping it prevents others from getting behind the wheel and getting inebriated.”
The debate over the city’s right to post drivers’ mug shots has been very heated. Many argue that posting images of the drivers is a violation of the privacy and negates that face that individuals are innocent until proven guilty. Also, the police are worried about alienating the city’s residents and don’t think public shaming is apart of their job description.
“It will have a negative impact on relations with the community, the police department and city officials,” Randall Bertz, a former police officer turned lawyer, told The Associated Press. “What’s next, will they have drunk drivers walk around with sandwich boards? Will it be public flogging?”
Initially councilman Dwyer wanted to post the mug shots of everyone caught drunk driving , but lack of support made him back off of that aggressive idea. He is now hoping to gain support for his proposal by only publically shaming repeat offenders.
Huntington Beach, dubbed “Surf City” by locals, is known for its relaxed vibe, pristine beaches, and lively bar scene. However, the city also aggressively enforces its drunk driving laws, and in 2009 arrested 1,687 people for driving under the influence.
Despite its aggressive stance against drunk driving, however, in 2009, 195 people were either killed or injured by drunk drivers and Dwyer hopes to change that with his proposal.