The Huntington Beach Independent newspaper used to expose drunken drivers by posting a weekly DUI list but has since cut the practice. Now, the Huntington Beach Police Department is considering a move to publish its own list of DUI offenders, according to this article in the Independent.
From the article:
“DUIs are a public-safety issue,” said police Lt. Russell Reinhart. “Public awareness of the problem, and scope of the problem, is one way of addressing any public-safety concern.”
The Police Department considered publishing the names of those arrested for DUI after the Huntington Beach Independent stopped publishing a weekly DUI list in December, according to the city report.
The Independent decided to ax the standing feature after a change in editorial policy.
The department is considering posting the names, which are public record, online, not to embarrass people, but to send a message that Huntington is enforcing DUIs, he said.
“It’s not a wall of shame we’re looking to put up,” Reinhart said.
For the last three years, on average, the department has made 1,700 DUI arrests a year.
Huntington’s DUI rate was the third-highest for cities with similar populations in 2008, according to the report.
“We have a murder once every couple of years in Huntington Beach, but we have a dozen or so people killed in alcohol-related crashes every year,” Reinhart said.
However, Huntington still has the fourth-highest number of alcohol-related traffic collisions for its population, which is estimated at more than 201,000, according to the report.
Police departments have used various tactics in the past to curtail drunken driving across Orange County and the country at large. As detailed in a Voice of OC story, one such tactic, the DUI checkpoint, was shown to have little effect — but in 2008, still netted $14 million in federal grant dollars for DUI enforcement statewide.
— ADAM ELMAHREK