Councilman Wants to Shame Drunk Drivers by Posting DUI Mug Shots on Facebook
Huntington Beach city councilman Devin Dwyer is calling on local police to begin posting mug shots of repeat DUI offenders on Facebook. Dwyer's proposal initially called for all drunk drivers to be publicly shamed on the social-networking site, but he eventually limited it to those who have been arrested more than once. "If it takes shaming people to save lives, I am willing to do it," Dwyer told the AP. "I'm hoping it prevents others from getting behind the wheel and getting inebriated."
Fortunately, the police department is vehemently fighting the proposal, on which the city council is set to vote today. Police spokesman Lt. Russell Reinhart says that the department occasionally posts mug shots of drunk drivers on its Facebook page, but only in situations where the public could be at immediate risk. Regularly posting photos of arrested individuals, he argues, would risk desensitizing the public, and could negate a powerful tool.
Councilwoman Connie Boardman thinks that Dwyer's proposal wouldn't do much to deter people from drinking and driving, and would actually do more harm than necessary. "People who habitually drink and drive are alcoholics and are not going to be shamed by this," she said. "But their parents and their spouses would be mortified. That is going to result in tremendous humiliation for a kid who has no hope of controlling his parent's behavior."
Dwyer may have the best of intentions, but his proposal clearly goes too far. Yes, drunk driving is morally reprehensible, and those who do it should be punished according to the law. But they should also be given the opportunity to learn from their mistakes, change their ways, and become contributing members of society. If their face is immortalized in Facebook infamy, that recovery process would become significantly more challenging. Dwyer shouldn't let the court of public opinion interfere with the court of law, because, as Lt. Reinhart said, "Law enforcement is not about public shaming."