A new Tennessee law aimed at shaming drunken drivers by making them pick up litter while wearing brightly colored vests marked “I am a drunk driver” is coming in for criticism. by sheriffs, prosecutors, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, and some judges, the Tennessean says. The governor wants it retooled. The Davidson County sheriff’s department estimated it will cost the county $250,000 – not for vests, but for the labor and vehicle usage to administer the plan. The only people who might like the law are the drunken drivers: The vest-wearing trash pickup is less of a punishment than the old law, which required a 48-hour stint in jail. Laura Dial of MADD says: “We’re in favor of what’s most effective, and jail time is the most effective.”
To date, no one in middle Tennessee is believed to have donned an “I am a drunk driver” vests. Only two weeks into the new year, it may be a while before anyone arrested for DUI in 2006 faces a sentencing hearing. As of Jan. 1, those who are 21 and older get 24 hours in jail and a second 24-hour stint, served in three eight-hour shifts, stuffing garbage bags on state highways. For offenders under 21, the 48-hour minimum jail stay remains intact, but they also have to pick up trash. The shame law’s purpose is embarrassment and deterrence, says state Sen. Charlotte Burks, a sponsor of the new law. I think it will have an effect, especially on the younger ones. I don’t think they will want to do it again once they’ve picked up trash on the highway,” she said.