Car Accidents, DUI and Facebook Shaming

Recently, a California city known for its surfing proposed a new tactic in reducing the number of car accidents caused by drinking and driving in the city, shame the offenders on Facebook. The proposed measure sought to put the mug shot of repeat DUI offenders on Facebook in an effort to publically shame the offenders and would be offenders from committing the offense.

Huntington Beach, California is a city of 200,000 people and among similar cities of its size it ranks number one out of 56 for the number of fatal alcohol-related car accidents that occur in the city. Two years ago 195 people were either injured or killed in car accidents related to alcohol. Besides its surfing, the city is known for its drinking scene and has a downtown with numerous watering holes. Huntington Beach enforces its drinking and driving laws seriously and made 1,687 DUI arrests in 2009. One Delray Beach criminal defense attorney explains that there is a saying in Huntington Beach: Come to Huntington Beach on vacation, leave on probation.

The city’s proposed public shaming tactic has met fierce opposition from the city’s police department and privacy advocates. Privacy advocates do not believe that public shaming DUI offenders will have a real impact on habitual drunken drivers and the police department worried the proposition would deteriorate its online relationship with the public.

Currently, the police department uses Facebook to gather tips and to post public safety information. Other council members worried that the public shaming would not reduce car accidents and would only shame the offenders’ family members. On Tuesday night the proposal was voted down. Those who voted against the measure said it would alienate community members and create a bad reputation for the city.

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