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Would you support “scarlet letter” plates for DUI offenders?

Earlier this month, the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) sparked a debate when it created a twitter poll asking Coloradans whether they thought DUI offenders should be forced to put special “scarlet letter” license plates on their cars.

Essentially, these special license plates would identify vehicles belonging to those convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), and the plates would likely remain on the vehicles during the offender’s probationary period, which would typically range from six months to a year.

Is this going too far or not?

While many people support a program that would require “scarlet letter” plates for those convicted of drunk driving, there are also many opponents — and for a variety of reasons.

For instance, opponents of these plates believe that they would simply brand these individuals and lead to more profiling by police. In addition, there is the worry that police could unfairly target those who share a vehicle with DUI offenders, such as spouses and other family members, even though they themselves have never been convicted of DUI.

There is also a concern that children of DUI offenders would share in the shame and stigma. So, many question, how does this public shaming actually help anyone?

While it is still far too early to know if Colorado officials will ever seek to implement these special license plates, it is worth noting the results of the CSP poll earlier this month. According to a Fox 31 report, of the roughly 350 people who responded to the poll:

  • 40 percent believe the plates should be required after the first offense
  • 33 percent believe they should be required for repeat offenders
  • 20 percent believe these plates should never be issued
  • 7 percent believe they should only be required in special circumstances

It will be interestingly to see if lawmakers decide to take up this matter.

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