CSP: ‘Scarlet Letter’ For DUI Drivers?

By Melissa Garcia

DENVER (CBS4)– State police are asking for public input on a creative form of punishment that would brand DUI drivers everywhere they go behind the wheel.

A survey put out Friday on Colorado State Patrol’s public affairs page asks, “Would you, personally, support a ‘scarlet letter’ indicator on the license plate of a convicted drunk driver?”

Of the 351 answers by the survey’s end on Saturday afternoon, final results were posted follows:

40% – Yes, make them known.
33% – After 2+ convictions, yes.
20% – Never, too far.
7% – W/ special circumstances.

According to a CSP spokesman, a trooper tweeted the survey out as a way to get drivers to think about the consequences of drinking and driving. He said that the idea was not currently under consideration by the agency or by the state.

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While the majority of people who answered the survey on Twitter were in support of some form of the measure, drivers interviewed by CBS4 were not so sure that it would accomplish saving lives.

“If you’re going through a green light and (the drunk driver) runs a stop light, you’re never going to see that license plate identification to let you know that that’s who did it to you,” said one driver.

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So far in 2017, Colorado State Patrol reports 3,657 drug and alcohol-related DUIs.

Three hundred and sixty of those have caused crashes with injuries, and 76 of them have caused deaths.

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Police have aimed to take down DUI numbers through various campaigns and sobriety checkpoints.

Colorado lawmakers have also tried to tackle the problem with stiffer penalties, like automatic felonies for four-time offenders.

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The idea in CSP’s survey, however, takes DUI punishment to a whole new level.

“I don’t know what it would solve,” said Colin Nicholson, a Denver driver. “Would it make people not drink and drive because they saw a license plate with a marker on it that said this (other) person did?”

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“I don’t see how identifying them, on their license plate especially, which is kind of a scarlet letter, is going to prevent them from committing the same crime again,” said another.

“I like the idea, however, (the drunk driver) could be driving other people’s cars. You don’t always know,” added Jennifer Tram, who also lives and drives in Denver.

CBS4’s Melissa Garcia reached out to state lawmakers Saturday afternoon to find out if the issue could make its way onto the books. Officials had not yet responded.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to mkgarcia@cbs.com.

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