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Huntington Beach may try to shame suspected drunk drivers on Facebook

November 17, 2010 |  7:57 am

Huntington Beach is considering a new tactic against drunk driving: public shaming on Facebook.

After the idea was suggested Monday at a City Council meeting, the city's Police Department is looking into posting the names of suspected drunk drivers on Facebook, said Lt. Russell Reinhart.

Councilman Devin Dwyer asked police if they could post the names of people arrested for drunk driving on the city's Facebook page, because the local newspaper has stopped publishing the listings.

"I didn't think public shaming for driving under the influence was such a bad idea," Dwyer said. "I would use any tool necessary to bring down the numbers of drunk drivers."

The idea is part of an aggressive anti-drunk-driving initiative by the city that calls for more officers focusing on DUI cases, posting of the names of people arrested for drunk driving on the city website, and letters to bars when one of their patrons is arrested for driving under the influence.

A July report by the city said there is "a significant DUI problem in Huntington Beach," citing 274 alcohol-related collisions and 1,687 drunk-driving arrests last year -- one of the highest rates statewide for a city its size.

Reinhart said the Police Department began looking for a new way to broadcast drunk-driving arrests after the Huntington Beach Independent, a community newspaper published by The Times, stopped running listings of the arrests.

"It's public information," he said. "Anybody could go to the counter, get it and put it on their own Web page."

The Facebook proposal will be reviewed by City Atty. Jennifer McGrath to make sure there are no legal barriers, Reinhart said.

McGrath, who was first elected city attorney in 2002, has herself pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and paid a fine after being stopped in 2005 for driving on the wrong side of Main Street, not far from City Hall.

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-- Tony Barboza

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