Monday, February 11, 2008

WA bill requires yellow license plate for DUI drivers


SEATTLE – Drunk drivers in Washington state could soon have their own Scarlet Letter in the form of a fluorescent yellow license plate.

More than year after a drunk driver killed her niece, Jeri Mallory is still haunted by the memories.

"The thing I remember most was I don't remember when I told her I love you last and that just broke my heart," said Mallory.

She says what's worse is that drunk drivers keep getting behind the wheel.

"It's just unconscionable to me that they would do that," said Mallory.

Republican state senator Mike Carrell wants to target the conscience of would-be drunk drivers. He is sponsoring a bill that would require a person convicted of DUI to drive a vehicle with front and rear fluorescent yellow license plates.

Ohio started requiring the same thing four years ago.

"I believe shame will keep people from doing it. Looking at somebody who is driving around with a fluorescent yellow license plate should be a good reason for others to decide 'I don't want to have my neighbors knowing that I'm a drunk,'" said Carrell.

Under the proposal, if you're a convicted DUI offender and you're caught driving without the special license plate, you could be slapped with a misdemeanor.

But Mothers Against Drunk Driving says it's not in favor of the idea because there's no scientific data showing the special plates reduce drunk driving. Plus, innocent family members would have to ride in the car would bare the shame.

"I think sometimes shaming people is not the right thing to do," said Mallory.

Still, at Monday's senate committee hearing, Sen. Carrell said sometimes a little shame goes a long way.

"Giving the public knowledge of who might be out on the roads with them that might be potentially dangerous is a benefit to the public," said Carrell.

If the bill passes, DUI drivers would have to drive with the special plates for one year. There would be an exemption when driving work vehicles.

It would go effect January 1, 2009.

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