Have you ever heard of DUI plates? If you haven’t, it’s probably because your state doesn’t use them. The bright red, yellow, or white plates alert drivers and highway patrol that the person behind the wheel has a drunk driving conviction on their record. The state of Ohio has been using DUI plates since 1967, and up until 2004 judges had the option of penalizing a repeat operating vehicle impaired (OVI) offender with the noticeable plates. On January 1st, 2004, DUI plates became mandatory in Ohio for repeat OVI offenders.
If the concept of DUI plates reminds you of Nathanial Hawthorne’s tale of public humiliation ‘The Scarlet Letter,’ you’re not alone. They’re designed specifically to put the spotlight, however embarrassing, on drunk drivers. Although those who have to use the plates feel it’s an invasion of personal privacy and publicly humiliating for people in the vehicle with them, lawmakers see the ‘Scarlet Plates’ as a reasonable penalty for someone who drives under the influence.
Public humiliation via DUI plates may be a good deterrent, but when it comes to keeping drunk drivers off the road, Ohio hasn’t stopped there. New ignition interlock laws are on the verge of passing in the state. Ohio House Bill 469, otherwise known as ‘Annie’s Law,’ has passed through 4 committee hearings and is on its way to a 5th hearing and vote on Tuesday, September 29th, 2014. Named for Annie Rooney, a lawyer who was killed by a drunk driver in Ohio, the law will require all offenders to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle upon their first OVI conviction.
With DUI plates for repeat offenders and ignition interlock devices for all offenders, Ohio should see a big drop in alcohol-related fatalities and drinking drivers on the roads.