“DUI is epidemic in the state, it takes too many lives – too many innocent lives – and this is going to be a tool to try and address that and stop it,” says State Representative Glen Casada.
Casada is sponsoring a bill that would add a new penalty to a second or subsequent DUI conviction in Tennessee: inclusion in a state registry that would be open to the public.
As currently written, the bill would require the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to post a publicly accessible list on its website of anyone convicted of two or more new DUI offenses. After a second conviction, the driver’s name and identifying information would be posted on the TBI’s website for two years. After a third or subsequent conviction, the name and identifying information would be posted for five years.
After the two- or five-year period, the person’s name and identifying information would be removed from the site — as long as they didn’t commit another drunk driving offense.
What would a repeat DUI registry accomplish?
According to Casada, creating a registry of repeat DUI offenders would allow the community to identify and shame people.
“I truly expect our communities to get engaged and put a little pressure on those individuals that are doing this,” he told WKRN.
Additionally, Casada says that a repeat DUI registry would help courts share information and hold people more accountable for their actions.
However, some argue that other registries have done at least as much harm as good. For example, sex offender registries suffer from the inclusion of too many people who have committed minor offenses like public urination. Moreover, the sex offender registry can serve to give people a false sense of security, as they assume that most offenders are strangers who simply need to be identified. In reality, most crimes are committed by someone the victim knows well.
A repeat DUI offender database would probably suffer from some similar problems. Considering the expense and trouble of administering such a list, it’s likely that some names would not be removed promptly, meaning that people could be left on the database for longer than is allowed by law.
Furthermore, it’s not clear that courts and law enforcement agencies are having any trouble identifying repeat DUI offenders without needing the database.
It’s true that DUI is a serious offense, and repeat offenses can be frustrating. However, each case is unique and should be dealt with individually. It’s not clear that creating a repeat DUI offender registry would do anything to reduce drunk driving. Instead, it might open offenders up to unjust retaliation and vigilantism by the public.