DUI 'Shaming Law' has officials questioning its effectiveness

DUI 'Shaming Law' has officials questioning its effectiveness

Posted: Updated: April 29, 2013 08:34 PM

An eight year-old Tennessee law has law enforcement officials questioning its effectiveness.

First time DUI offenders spend three eight-hour sessions picking-up litter along busy roads, all while wearing a bright-colored vest that states in bold letters "I am a drunk driver". It is coined the Shaming Law.

The unique punishment is used in an effort to humiliate these offenders and thereby discourage them from ever committing the crime again.

In addition to the community service, the law mandates these offenders spend 48-hours in jail, lose their driver's license for a year, pay a $350 fine, attend alcohol education classes and probation.

Marcelino Gutierrez is one of a number of first-time DUI offenders picking-up junk along the well-traveled stretch of Bell Road in Nashville.

Gutierrez said the humiliation of it all is unbearable, but well deserved.  

"It's not worth it! To be out on the side of the road... it is a little public shame, but we did it to ourselves so we're out here paying for our mistakes," said Gutierrez.

Incidentally, many in the law enforcement community do not think the controversial punishment fits the crime.

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall has been outspoken about the mandate from the very beginning.

He feels the law is expensive despite the offender paying around $42 out of their pocket for the honor of doing community service.

Hall added that counties have to bus and supervise the offenders on work detail, potentially putting a strain on their budgets.

Hall also believes humiliating the offender is not the best way to deter them from committing the crime again, especially since there is no research confirming the measure works.

"We need to be arresting the problem of alcoholism and cleaning the highways isn't really the answer to that," said Hall.

Davidson County Criminal Judge Mark Fishburn is the primary DUI judge for the county. Each week he hears many DUI cases and noted that too many are repeat offenders.

Fishburn also feels the law is not effective since many of the DUI re-offenders he sees in his courtroom have gone through the community service program.  

"If they ask me, I would ask them to re-evaluate and look at other ways to address DUI offender," Judge Fishburn.

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