Get a DUI, Put It On Your License Plate?

While being arrested for one DUI is frightening enough, multiple DUI arrests can lead to life changing consequences. Some say these consequences should be harsher yet. In the state of Illinois, a second or third conviction currently can lead to jail time, years of revoked driving privileges, and thousands of dollars in monetary penalties.

In Missouri, a State Representative is proposing a bill that would require individuals convicted of a DWI (Missouri's equivalent of the DUI conviction in Illinois) to obtain a special identifying license plate. This would mean that after two DWI offenses, police would be able to identify your conviction record by a mere glance at your plates and could use it as reasonable suspicion to pull you over. Similar requirements are actually already in place in other states.

While there is reason to believe repeat offenders may continue to reoffend, the vast majority of DUI offenders are first time offenders. In 2012, 86% of drivers arrested in Illinois for DUI were committing their first offense. So targeting past offenders could both cause people to have more caution and create a culture that was less intent on identifying crime and more intent on identifying past crime. Further, the proposal to label past offender vehicles would undermine the efforts of past offenders to recover from that often trying experience. If someone has changed their lifestyle and would no longer even consider drinking and driving, yet s/he is still pulled over regularly due to reasonable suspicion, s/he will continue to be haunted by that conviction.

License plate labeling has yet to become law in Illinois; but in any case, the harshening of severe DUI consequences could have serious implications for those convicted of the crime. Of course, the best course of action to avoid such consequences is to avoid the crime itself. But if you are arrested for DUI—regardless of whether this is your first offense or your fourth—it is clearly becoming increasingly important to ensure that you have appropriate and trustworthy legal counsel, as the outcome could change everything.

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