By Garth O'Brien | March 2, 2008
Filed Under DUI News
Olympia, Washington. Republican Washington State Senator Mike Carrell believes one way to stop DUI is by forcing DUI convicts to slap yellow colored license plates on their vehicle. The public scorn and shame will teach them a lesson and prevent them from committing DUI in the future. Brilliantly lame.
I prosecuted DUIs for two years for the City of Seattle. The Seattle Municipal Court sees more DUI cases than any other court in Washington State. Ninety percent of my caseload that went to jury trial were DUIs.
I also defended DUI defendants over the course of four years. Eighty percent of my clientèle were first time offenders. These individuals were executives, college educated, soccer moms, and most of all they had zero criminal history. They ranged in age from 18 to 60. For these people they only required one brush with the law to learn their lesson. Slapping a yellow license plate on their car is purely a punitive measure. The first time offender mandatory penalties are draconian enough.
Then there were 19% of my clients that were alcoholics. They had the disease and did not or could not come to the realization they needed help. By the second DUI arrest an experienced defense attorney will utilize the Deferred Prosecution and get their client into the strict two year long treatment program. Contrary to how this program is portrayed in the media it is no picnic. I would tell my clients their priorities should be listed as follows:
- Breathing, eating and sleeping;
- Complying with the Deferred Prosecution conditions;
- Everything else.
These people need serious support and struggle each day to overcome the disease. The last thing they need is a constant reminder they are a “bad” person when they see their yellow license plate. The last thing they need exiting substance abuse treatment is seeing the shame of their yellow license plate. Does Mike Carrell have a clue? Clearly, he does not.
Mike Carrell should focus his energies on the 1% of my former clientèle. This is the dangerous group. The group that has had chance after chance in the criminal court system. The group that has been to various forms of rigorous treatment, and that have spent months to years in jail for DUI convictions. This is the group that does not care. They will not stop or cannot stop drinking. The individuals that know they will drink and drive again, but refuse to sell their vehicle, and refuse to drink themselves to death in their own home.
Mike Carrell should focus on these community menaces. By the way Mike, a yellow license plate will not stop these people. You want to stop these people Mike? Then require every vehicle operated on the roadways of Washington State to have an Ignition Interlock Device. You should recall that driving is a privilege, and not a right. DOL regulates that privilege, and does so quite well. Some drivers must wear corrective lenses, and those that want to ride motorcycles must receive an endorsement.
If you push the Interlock initiative, then you remove all drivers from the roadway that have consumed alcohol. That is progressive. That is aggressive. That is creative. Yellow license plates are pathetic. Yellow license plates wasted 20 minutes of my time writing this post. Your yellow license plate idea is wasting valuable time and money of our state government.