The California DMV announced a new program to aggressively target repeat DUI offenders at risk of further infractions. The effort is aimed at finding drivers who may get behind the wheel with a suspended or revoked drivers license. who are considered most likely to be on the road illegally.
Part of the program involves more frequent updates of suspended license data to be provided to police officers from the DMV.
The news includes some surprising, and frankly, hard to believe statistics, including the claim that “research shows” that “75% of drivers convicted of a DUI continue to drive on a suspended license”. (I would really like to see this research data.)
This is not to minimize the risks and dangers to the public that exist for serial drunk drivers. A person who is repeatedly charged with and convicted of DUI almost certainly has a serious problem with alcohol abuse. This is either caused by, or results it terrible judgement and bad decision making. And certainly driving on a suspended license after a DUI conviction is another bad decision.
So, anyone who ignores these laws, particularly habitual drunk drivers is a legitimate threat to public safety.
But it is worth considering what enforcement crackdown this really means.
What Does it Actually Mean to Target These People?
Does it mean that if you are the family member of a registered car owner on this list, you can expect to be pulled over and harassed every time you borrow the car?
Does it mean extra money for license plate scanners to track individuals? And as we’ve seen in other places like Boston, virtually no action was taken on a vast number of alerts, making their ALPR system look like simply a gratuitous state data mining collection.
Multiple offense DUI sentences already include an interlock device to be installed on your vehicle upon license reinstatement. So presumably we are looking for scofflaws driving while their license ins still under suspension.
The article at guardian interlock also suggests that this information is publicly available. Is public “hot list” shaming of your neighbors a legitimate function of state government?
Is it even ok for local police to be carrying around a list of people who have been convicted of a crime in the past?
Where is the line between protecting public safety, and opening up those who have been convicted of crimes in the past to continued police harassment?
The answers to these questions are not obvious.