Photos of DUI suspects appear on HPD web site

Photos of DUI suspects appear on HPD web site
Maj. Thomas Nitta, HPD
Maj. Thomas Nitta, HPD
Paul Cunney
Paul Cunney

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - If you get charged with driving under the influence, would you keep that a secret from your boss or your spouse? Keeping your arrest under wraps will soon become more difficult.

Honolulu police last week announced they will soon begin posting DUI arrest photos online. The project, aimed at curbing drunken driving, is raising questions about fairness and effectiveness.

Getting pulled over as a drunken driving suspect is bad enough. Now imagine your family, your co-workers and others knowing all about it.

Beginning Wednesday, HPD will post on its web site the names and mug shots of those charged with driving under the influence. Each Wednesday, for a period of 24 hours, suspects from the preceding week will appear online.

"Hopefully, it will act as a deterrent to, say, people will realize I might be on the Internet," Maj. Thomas Nitta, Honolulu Police Department, said.

Police say they make about 80 to 90 DUI arrests on Oahu every week.

Mother Against Drunk Driving supports the project, but says it's not sure how much of an impact it will have.

"There are no hard data, either locally or nationally, to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that such measures like this deter drunk driving," Arkie Koehl, MADD Hawaii, said.

Defense attorney Paul Cunney says the project unfairly singles out one type of suspect.

"You put the picture up there and it's like the Scarlet Letter," Cunney said. "Everybody just assumes because you've been charged, you're arrested, it's hard to overcome that in the community."

So far this year, officers say they have made 3,619 DUI arrests. There were 4,315 such arrests in 2008.

Police say alcohol and speed have been involved in about 20% of Oahu's traffic fatalities this year.

"Everyone should know that operating a vehicle under the influence is dangerous," Nitta said.

"We think the proper thing would be to do is let the whole process play out, let the due process apply," Cunney said. "And if they are convicted, I can see posting it if they are convicted."

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