It seems some lawmakers are never quite satisfied with existing penalties for DUI offenders, always proposing additions and harsher sentences. Representative Normal Smith has introduced new legislation that would brand DUI offenders, making them subject to additional scrutiny from law enforcement and other drivers.
Her suggestion: to give those convicted of DUI special license plates when their driving privileges are reinstated. While Washington wouldn’t be the first state to have them, they would be one of the few. Each plate would have the letter Z on it to distinguish it from other drivers.
Opponents to the suggested law point out that the vast majority of DUI offenders are first-time and only-time offenders, never to be arrested for such offenses again. They argue this Scarlet Letter, of sorts, unfairly targets someone who already paid their debt through probation, fines, jail time, and other sanctions levied at sentencing.
Representative Smith states “It provides a tool for law enforcement…just to be aware that the car is registered to someone with a dui conviction and to provide a little extra scrutiny.” She points out the program would pay for itself as the additional letter on a plate would be no added cost to the existing price of license plate reinstatement.
According to King 5, the measure has already received support from the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs. But, defense lawyers and civil liberties activists, no doubt, oppose the bull’s-eye sort of idea.
When you are charged with DUI it can be an embarrassing experience. You may lose respect from friends and even family even though it is a common charge. Your professional reputation can be put at risk. But increasing this level of embarrassment and impact on your personal life by requiring you to drive around with a labeled car is asinine.
The proposed law would require offenders to keep the specialized plate for 3 years after reinstating their license. Three years is a long time after a DUI, and even longer when you realize the time period wouldn’t begin until you got your license back and your sentence was likely satisfied.
DUI laws are some of the strictest of all criminal laws. Under the guise of keeping roadways safe, laws have been enacted that border on Unconstitutional, often removing due process from the equation. Often people charged with DUI are given harsher penalties than those charged with offenses considered more serious and even more dangerous.
If you are facing DUI charges and worried about the short term and lasting impact on your life, contact our offices today.