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Web page for DUI arrests criticized


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POSTED: Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Honolulu Police Department's plans to post the names and photos of alleged drunken drivers on a new Web page have disturbed some attorneys, who say it's unconstitutional and will infringe on the person's right to a fair trial.

“;Embarrassing people who haven't been convicted of anything is not only illegal, but bad policy,”; said Honolulu attorney Earle Partington.

Starting 10 a.m. Wednesday, HPD's Web site will include a link to a Web page called “;Oahu's Drunk Drivers.”; The page will identify people arrested and charged for allegedly operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Wednesday's photos will be of arrests Nov. 15-21 and the information will remain posted for 24 hours, the department announced yesterday. For the next six months, Honolulu police will post photos every Wednesday of those arrested in the preceding Sunday-Saturday period.

The pilot program is administered by the Traffic Division and aimed at deterring drunken drivers.

“;They're not only endangering themselves, but everybody else on the road,”; said Maj. Thomas Nitta, head of the Traffic Division.

If the program is determined to be effective, officials plan to continue the postings and may expand it to other crimes.

About 80 to 90 people are arrested weekly on Oahu on suspicion of driving under the influence, Nitta said. So far this year, 3,615 people have been arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence, compared with 4,315 for all of last year. Of last year's figure, 182 were involved in a motor vehicle collision.

Nitta said about 20 percent of the traffic-related fatalities on Oahu so far this year involved speed and alcohol.

Jennifer Dotson, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving-Hawaii chapter, said the organization is in full support of the program, especially as the holiday season nears. Last year, 18 traffic-related fatalities occurred in November and December. Of that figure, 11 were alcohol-related.

“;It's definitely something that's needed here in Hawaii,”; Dotson said.

But Partington criticized the program as a publicity stunt.

;[Preview]    Mugs from Oahu DUI arrests to be posted online
  ;[Preview]
 

If you get arrested for drunk driving on Oahu, your mug shot will be put on the Internet.

Watch ]

 

“;This is a headline grabber,”; he said. “;To single out DUI and not sexual predators, excuse me? The fact that they're starting with DUI tells me that this is for show only.”;

Honolulu attorney Scot Stuart Brower described the program as archaic.

“;Are they going to next have people's foreheads carved with the Scarlet Letter?”; he asked. “;If people are constitutionally entitled to a fair trial, why are they wanting to broadcast people's photographs?”;

Brower said the title of the Web page alone is unbelievable. “;It's clearly going to give the message that people are guilty before they had their day in court,”; he said. “;I handled enough DUI cases to know that what they're proposing is outrageous.”;

Prosecutor Peter Carlisle could not be reached for comment. The police department's Web site is www.honolulupd.org.