Drunk Driving Registry On The Horizon?

We already have sex offender registries and some cities have gun offender registries as well. But if lawmakers in Maine get their way, there will soon be a similar system to identify drunk drivers in that state. If passed in Maine, it could set off a nationwide trend. But would such a system be worth the time and money spent on it?

Proposed by Republican Representative Rich Cebra, the database would track all people convicted of a drunk driving offense. It wouldn’t only put them on a list; it would place their photos, names, and addresses on a website for all of the public to access.

According to the Bangor Daily News, he wants Mainers to know if their neighbors are drunk drivers. He states it isn’t a registry because the state wouldn’t require offenders to register; they would merely publish the information from the Maine Department of Public Safety website. The idea, he says, is to allow for citizens to search their neighborhood on the website to see if evil drunk drivers are in their midst.

Cost is just one of the problems that Cebra’s opponents have. But he proposes a $25 surcharge to assist with the cost of the site, a charge collected by the courts at time of conviction.

In all reality, it’s not likely this measure will pass. However, it could well start a disturbing trend. Privacy is often sacrificed to even the slightest concerns about public safety.

While Cebra states it’s all in the name of public safety and points to carpooling with children as a concern, one opponent states “the best way for parents to keep their children safe is to know their neighbors and know the adults that they let their children get rides with….this does not improve public safety.”

Most people want safe roads and don’t want to get involved in an accident with a drunk driver. But DWI/DUI charges are some of the most common and hit people from all walks of life. The legal standards for a drunk driving charge are often so subjective that people who really posed no real danger are arrested and convicted.

Carrying a conviction around for a lifetime is nothing compared with having your name, photo, and address listed on a computer database as a drunk driver. This takes the punishment for a relatively minor charge to a whole new level. Sure, the risk for reoffending is there but the vast majority of people who are arrested for drunk driving are first time and only time offenders.

Though Cebra’s fight for such a system in Maine may be in vain as he meets a lot of opposition, I could see some anti drunk driving lobbyist groups getting behind legislation like this and even potentially pushing it through at some point in the future.

In the meantime, the penalties for a DWI/DUI/OWI vary widely from state to state and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If you are facing these or similar charges, you need an experienced attorney advocating for your best interests. Contact us today to speak to with a local criminal defense lawyer who fights drunk driving charges.

About David Matson