Alcohol

Madder Than MADD

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Andrew P. Thomas, the chief prosecutor in Maricopa County, Arizona, has begun shaming people convicted of driving under the influence by posting their pictures, names, and blood alcohol levels online. A misdemeanor offense is enough to qualify. For those convicted of DUI-related felonies, Thomas has rented billboards that say, "Drive Drunk…See Your Mug Shot Here." At the risk of confusing passers-by who might think he's the guy pictured in the mug shot, Thomas reserves the bottom quarter of the billboards for his own name, in white-on-red letters as big as the headline. To someone unschooled in the principles of criminal justice, these billboards might look like thinly veiled re-election posters. Thomas sets the record straight: 

The purposes of the billboards and the Web site, Mr. Thomas has said, are to inform the public about drunken-driving laws, and to serve as a deterrent.

"People tend to like it, and it gets a message across to the offender," said Mike Scerbo, a spokesman for Mr. Thomas, who declined to be interviewed. "We haven't heard any complaints."

Taking Thomas at his word, he is imposing extrajudicial punishment, based on his unilateral conclusion that the penalties prescribed by law for DUI offenses provide an inadequate deterrent. Notably, even Mothers Against Drunk Driving has reservations about his approach:

"Some parts of the Web site are good because they are informational and trying to provide the victim's perspective," said Misty Moyse, the spokeswoman for the group. However, she said, "M.A.D.D. would not want to be involved in calling out offenders. We are interested in research- and science-based activities proven to stop drunk driving."

A local defense attorney, as you might expect, is a bit more upset:

"I just can't believe he's doing it," said Mark Weingart, a defense lawyer in Tempe who has advised hundreds of people facing charges of driving under the influence. "Besides the fact that it is in bad taste, D.U.I.'s usually involve somebody with no criminal history. The downside to this person being published on the Web site is tremendous. I don't see the point. Why doesn't he put sex offenders up there?"

Public shaming of sex offenders? How could you get politicians to support something like that?

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  1. Mothers against drunk driving?

    feh!

    \
    Drunks Against Mad Mothers

    How about public shaming for politicians who
    violate their oath of office, campaign promises
    or both?

  2. How about public shaming for all politicians who
    violate their oath of office, campaign promises
    or both?

    There, I fixed it for you.

  3. Call me crazy, but public shame really only makes sense for public figures. Misdemeanor offenders, by and large, are hardly the stock around which the National Enquirer is published.

    Also, in most states doesn’t a person have control of the use of their likeness?

  4. Jozef, thanks for the fix…but in practical terms it’s virtually the same thing.

    How many exceptions can you think of?

  5. Well it’s nice to see that CBS isn’t in cahoots with the government. I’m sure CBS donated the billboard rather than charged the county for the advert.

  6. Why doesn’t he put sex offenders up there?

    Because the state government has already done it for him?

  7. For anyone out that way who is reading. I’m friends with lots of different Copwatch groups around the country on myspace and just got this one from the Phoenix group.

    Phoenix Copwatch

    Date: Dec 13, 2007 9:19 AM
    Subject: TONIGHT 6PM – Town Hall Mtg – Phoenix PD/Immigration
    Body: EMERGENCY COMMUNITY MEETING

    Voice your concerns on mayor Gordon’s Proposed Phoenix Police
    Immigration Enforcement Policy

    Thursday, December 13, 2007
    6:00PM

    South Mountain High School
    5401 S. 7th Street
    (7th St and Roeser)

    Organized by Mary Rose Wilcox and Steve Gallardo

  8. To someone unschooled in the principles of criminal justice, these billboards might look like thinly veiled re-election posters.

    OK, Standard Libertarian Disclaimer #7 here, but can’t we use some of the campaign finance laws to go after this guy?

    I mean, you’re not allowed to use your office resources for political advertising, right?

    Maricopa Co. is in my top five places I’ll NEVER visit…

  9. Living in Maricopa County is surreal. Andrew Thomas or Joe Arpaio seem to have a bizarre new punishment every week or so, and when it fails to do anything worthwhile, they come up with an even more harebrained scheme.

  10. We should just put pictures up everywhere listing the names, age, address, social security #, dick size,etc. of everyone that violates any law.

    Put them on the National Criminal Database.

    Deny anyone who violates any of our great laws (right down to j-walking) jobs, housing, medical care, financial aide, food, and water.

  11. Did he pay for these billboards with private money or taxpayers money?

    Are there metrics to demonstrate that these types of shamings have any deterrent value whatsoever?

  12. The downside to this person being published on the Web site is tremendous. I don’t see the point. Why doesn’t he put sex offenders up there?

    Works the other way around. “We list sex offenders, why not drunk drivers?” Then “drug addicts.” Then…

    Unintended consequences department: I can see the guys down at the local bar high-fiving the latest “celebrity.” Here comes Zelda, who does it with everyone who makes a billboard. Fifteen minutes, baby!

    Are there metrics to demonstrate that these types of shamings have any deterrent value whatsoever?

    Google: letter, scarlet.

  13. If the mugshots are meant for shaming DUI offenders, why are there varying fines listed under each? Wouldn’t you think that a DUI is a DUI and all should be punished equally? What makes one DUI worth more in fines (for lack of better wording) than the other? Or are they listing the total fine for all infractions committed at the time of the DUI? Just curious / nitpicking

  14. Also, in most states doesn’t a person have control of the use of their likeness?

    I think mug shots are public records, so no.

  15. J sub D —

    No, I mean likeness intended for public display. Mug shots are public records, true, but there is a world of difference between that and a street-level billboard.

    Didn’t some California appeals court say that a person had a distinct property interest in how their face was used (IIRC, Kozinski?)

  16. Bring back the Cross

    Oh puritian white nation that expects no-one to do wrong.

  17. I think this is of comparable interest:

    “To someone unschooled in the principles of criminal justice, these billboards might look like thinly veiled re-election posters.”

    Yeah, like most people out there looking at the billboard aren’t seeing his name in bold contrasting letters at the bottom fourth of the billboard.

    To me it says, “Hey, I’m doing this stuff and take full responsibility for it in hopes it influences the election in my favor.” The propaganda ministry spokes hole justifies it by saying,“We haven’t heard any complaints.”

    I’m sure they haven’t, it’s hard to hear and see with all that good government money clogging up your ears and covering up your eyes.

  18. However, she said, “M.A.D.D. would not want to be involved in calling out offenders. We are interested in research- and science-based activities proven to stop drunk driving.”

    Translation: We don’t like it because we didn’t think of it.

  19. For years in Washington state, many public buildings had signs that proclaimed
    “No Smoking by Order of
    Washington State
    Fire Marshall
    KARL HERMAN.”

    Mr. Herman’s name took up half the space of the poster, but that wasn’t for campaign purposes either.

  20. Hey, some of those chicks are cute as hell. They need to show which bars they’re hanging out in! With BACs of 1.0+ I bet even us Paultards could score!

  21. Fire Marshall is an elected postion?

  22. I think it was up to 1986. Then it was made an appointed position within the WAshington State Patrol.

  23. Caption Contest?

    “Big Drunkard is Watching You”

  24. I pass that goddamn billboard every Friday on my way to sin at the casino.

  25. How ’bout a website featuring big, beautiful photos of every cop and politician ever convicted of wrongdoing?

    Anyhoo, I’m interested: Are these billboards to be considered extra-legal punishment? If such things aren’t clearly spelled out in a judge’s sentencing, can’t a good lawyer get them deep-sixed?

  26. The question was asked, but not answered: who is paying for it? If it’s the city, who authorized the use of public funds for the purpose? From what budget was it paid, and what are the rules for the use of that money? Do the taxpayers have a cause of action there (in addition to the victim of the extrajudicial punishment)?

    If he’s paying for it privately (which I sincerely doubt), are the funds properly separated from his campaign funds? That right there should be enough to show the true purpose.

    If, as was suggested, CBS donated the use, who received the donation? Were taxes paid on the value of that service? Was the printing and installation also donated?

    I believe this merits further investigation.

  27. How about a pub with a car park in front of it?

    Let’s close it down! Sure as hell up to no good!

  28. I just put Thomas’ mug on my website. Good for goose and gander, as they say.

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