This article was published on January 18, 2011

Posting DUI mugshots on Facebook to save lives? Hm…

Posting DUI mugshots on Facebook to save lives? Hm…

In a town whose saying is “Come to Huntington Beach on vacation, leave on probation,” one councilman in Huntington Beach wants to introduce electronic shaming on Facebook.

In a fresh twist on the days of public flogging, sandwich boards and scarlet letters, he wants police to begin posting the mug shots of everyone who is arrested more than once for driving while under the influence.

“If it takes shaming people to save lives, I am willing to do it,” said Devin Dwyer, the councilman behind the proposal. “I’m hoping it prevents others from getting behind the wheel and getting inebriated.”

Privacy advocates are up in arms. Even the police department fears alienating residents. While he initially wanted all persons arrested for DUIs to have their photos posted to Facebook, he’s loosened his proposal to just target repeat offenders.

Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City is home to 200,000 people and is ranked #1 out of 56 California cities of similar size for the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities. In 2009, 195 people were killed or injured. Drunken driving laws are aggressively enforced, and in 2009, there were 1,687 DUI arrests.

Will a drunkard’s wish to save face on the Internet help save lives? Can you imagine this conversation going down at a bar? “No, man, I can’t drive tonight, I’m too scared of my mug shot ending up on Facebook.” I have my doubts. Just look at Lindsay Lohan, for example.