In today’s world, we hear terms like “slut shaming” and “fat-shaming” – but have you heard about so-called “plate shaming?” No? Well, this Morgantown criminal defense has. Here’s the skinny: At least one West Virginia news channel asked whether the Mountain State should take a cue from our Ohio neighbors, where second-time DUI offenders and those who were convicted of having a blood-alcohol content twice the legal limit are required to get what are known as “Scarlett Letter License Plates.” What are Scarlett Letter license plates, you ask? Well, just like heroin in Nathanial Hawthorne’s classic had to wear a red “A” for adultery, Ohio folks must drive with a tell-tale yellow license plate with red lettering.
The idea? Some say it is to shame those drivers, which, in my experience as a Morgantown criminal defense lawyer, is a poor idea. Other proponents say the license plates serve a different demographic altogether: That they are helping other motorists on the road identify what could potentially be a dangerous driver. My opinion is that shaming doesn’t generally work (heck, even the Scarlett Letter didn’t go over well – just ask the heroine, Hester). I’ve long said that the way to dissuade people – especially young people – from driving drunk is education. Real education – the kind of education they would get AFTER they got busted for driving under the influence.
I have had many clients who have hired me for DUI defense tell me how valuable the highway safety class is – and how much they learned about how long it takes for alcohol to get out of their systems. So, in my humble opinion, any number of yellow DUI-shaming license plates won’t do nearly as much good as some quality educational opportunities for our young people.