The Puritans had it right. When some scandalous young lassie shacked up with a man out of wedlock, they slapped a scarlet letter on her chest, so everyone could point, snicker, and otherwise feel better about themselves. State Rep. Norma Smith wants to recreate that festive atmosphere of shame by giving people convicted of DUI their very own license plates.
Smith tells KING 5 News:
"It provides a tool for law enforcement . . . just to be aware that the car is registered to someone with a DUI conviction and to provide a little extra scrutiny."
That's strictly a tool for law enforcement, mind you--because the normal methods of seeing if people break the law while driving and giving roadside sobriety tests (policing) somehow aren't tools enough.
Smith skirts around the public-shaming issue by saying of the plates that "There is no special coloring, there is nothing to draw attention to it." But Washingtonians are quite literate, if you haven't heard, and the ability to notice license plates festooned with the extra Z would be a simple task that at the very least would turn into several fun new games to play on long road trips.
Not to say that public shaming isn't a powerful social tool--it is. Let's just call a spade a spade, Ms. Smith.
In fact, why stop at license plates?
Why not bring back the dunce cap--or better yet, the pillory box--and get right down to business?
Ye Olde Drunk Driver.