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An Attempt to Reduce Car Accidents Caused by Alcohol

One city in California, recently proposed a novel idea on how to reduce the number of car accidents caused by alcohol in the city, publically shame offenders on Facebook. A Huntington Beach, California city councilman proposed publically shaming repeat DUI offenders on Facebook as a way to reduce the number of drinking and driving accidents in the city. The councilman proposed the idea because the local newspaper stopped printing the city’s arrest logs.

The city of Huntington Beach is known as a surf city that likes to party. The city has a downtown that is strewn with bars but also has a reputation for its enforcement of drinking and driving laws. One saying about the city is that people “Come to Huntington Beach on vacation and leave on probation.” Huntington Beach has a population around 200,000 people and among the 56 cities with similar populations in California it ranks number one in the amount of fatal car accidents caused by drinking and driving. In 2009, there were 195 people that were either injured or killed in alcohol related car accidents in the city. In the same year, police arrested 1,687 DUI offenders in the city.

The councilman that proposed the public shaming measure said that if it takes shaming people to save lives then the policy would be worth it and that he hoped the measure would stop other people from getting behind the wheel when they have had too much to drink. Interestingly, the measure faced opposition from the local police department. The police department worried the Facebook shaming policy would hurt the department’s online relationship with the community. This past Tuesday the measure was defeated. The reasons cited for the defeat was concern over alienating the residents of the city.

Source: The Associated Press, “Post This on Facebook? Calif. Surf City Considers Electronic Wall of Shame for DUI Mug Shots,” Thomas Watkins, 1/18/11

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