Monday, January 02, 2006

Welcome to 2006.

A3G: The Return
Wow. Take a couple days away from the internet, like I did, and you come back to find things all tipsy turvy. In case you haven't already heard the big news, Article 3 Groupie is back online. Welcome back.

Shaming Drunk Drivers
Last week I posted an entry about Sentencing Law & Policy's information on "Shaming Punishments". CNN.com reports about a new law in Tennessee going into effect which is aimed at shaming people convicted of drunken driving. The new law, aimed at first-time offenders, requires convicted offenders to "do 24 hours of roadside cleanup while wearing orange vests emblazoned with the phrase 'I am a Drunk Driver.'" The new law, while implementing "shaming" as part of the punishment, also includes a reduction in the amount of jail-time required for a first offender; offenders now will have to spend at least one day in jail, followed by three eight-hour cleanup shifts, while the previous minimum sentence for driving under the influence was 48 hours in jail. This reduction in jail-time prompted the Governor to not sign the law. The article notes some critics of the law, primarily people who would prefer more jail-time or people who would prefer some kind of treatment be included.

I think this is interesting, and it's worth following to see whether the end results show a decrease in drunk driving or not. This is one of those things, I think, that you can't really predict the impact of. Although, as the article suggests, it may well be that the embarrassment of having to stand on the side of the road where your friends and neighbors and business associates can see you might cause some people to never want to be a repeat offender, it seems to me that a good many drunk drivers don't really spend a lot of time worrying about the consequences of driving drunk; if the risk of killing people because you're too intoxicated to handle your vehicle doesn't stop them from doing it, this probably won't either. So it may really be most effective with the marginal drinker who is not likely to reoffend, but "could" or "might" have to decide some day whether to run the risk or not.

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