Readers respond to question of printing DWI arrests

09/27/2012 9:45 AM |

In his column last week, Troy Gustavson wrote about a recent incident in which he drove friends to Greenport from his home in Orient despite the group “having consumed more glasses of wine than [he cares] to count.”

“At no time during the drive did I consider myself impaired, but if I had been stopped by the police I do not know if I would have passed a Breathalyzer test,” he wrote.

The incident, he said, came to mind recently when a friend challenged him about this newspaper’s policy of publishing the names of all persons arrested for driving while intoxicated.

At the end of his column, Mr. Gustavson asked readers to share their thoughts about our policy.

“Should the newspaper publish the names of all those arrested for DWI?” he wrote. “Does the inevitability of that publication have a deterrent effect that keeps drunk drivers off the roads? Or does publication prematurely and unfairly stigmatize those who have been arrested?”

Here’s a sample of some of the online comments and emails he received from readers this week:

Troy,

My suggestion is this: Keep the arrests to the print version, keep out of the online version.

I think there is value in letting the local public know of these violations — there is a bit of a shaming aspect to it, and hopefully having their neighbors know of their mistake will make them more cautious in the future.

The problem with posting them online is that they become a matter of public record forever. More and more businesses conduct background checks on potential employees. A simple Google search could harm a person’s career many, many years after the offense. We all make mistakes, but posting them on the internet creates a permanent red flag, which seems cruel and unusual.

Just my two cents.

Rob

Troy,

Your article on publishing the names of those arrested for DWI was interesting. My feeling is that the names should not be published. We live in small towns where everyone knows everyone, if not personally then at least by name. Too much harm occurs not only to the person, but to the family. If you had actually been caught and arrested, how would your grandchildren have felt? Would they have had to face any comments from other students?

Also, I don’t think publishing names is a deterrent to drinking and driving. When you are drinking you certainly are not thinking about the fact that your name might appear in the paper.

I only see this practice as harmful to too many people.

But I admire your publishing the article. You are a very truthful person!

Betty Christy

Troy,

Print the names. During my career I have personally witnessed too many accidents that resulted from DWI/DWAI. It is such a simple gesture that may serve as a deterrent. It is a public service worthy of the Suffolk Times.

Kathy Tole

Troy,

I’m not gonna lie, my name has appeared in this paper far more than I’d like, but I flat out deserved it at the time. I was not inebriated. I consciously knew the who, what, when, where and why concerning the situations and also did what had to be done to clear my name. That’s how society rolls. If you do something stupid, get caught or rat yourself out, then be prepared to be judged on a social level.

I’m not saying judging is the morally correct thing to do (let’s face it, who are we to judge?), but if that’s how the fallout happened, roll with it and learn.

I sure did.

Anne Marie Grossman

Troy,

If you print names that are accused, why not print what happens after court? Many DWI cases get thrown out or the driver receives a reduced sentence. As far as you driving, they have the level so low today that even if you had one glass of wine, waited an hour and then drove, if you got stopped you would still be considered drunk. The only way around it is to not drive.

Laurie Downs

Troy,

Greater legal minds than mine have determined it to be a crime, because too many have died as a result of such. Thank you for your honesty. It raises awareness.

Joan Redlon

Troy,

I am in favor of publishing DWI arrests.

Most times the plea downs are procedural and do not reflect the impaired driving.

I do know that the .08 is an impossible, most likely political impossible, limit and I have known lawyers who think it should be .1.

Me, I am the designated driver.

Thanks for broaching the subject.

JN

Troy,

Driving drunk is something I did almost 40 years ago and got away with. I haven’t had a drink in almost 40 years, because I can’t handle it … I had a big problem with that.

It wouldn’t be a bad idea if they had the name of the person and put his or her picture with it. I think it would help.

Anthony Kearney