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Repeat drunk-drivers might have to bear sticker

February 15, 2000
By: Dan Shaw
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 1236

JEFFERSON CITY - "Convicted Repeat Drunk Driver" would be the auto window logo if some legislators get their way.

The House Motor Vehicle and Traffic Regulations Committee heard testimony on a proposal that would require the notice, in blazing orange letters, be placed on any car owned by a person convicted two or more times of driving while intoxicated.

Repeat drunk-drivers are more likely to cause fatal crashes, according to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving web site.

"It is not the occasional drinker who causes the worst accidents, but rather the repeat offenders. They should have to bear the brunt," said the measure's sponsor, Rep. Cindy Ostmann, R-St. Peters.

The label is intended to inspire caution as well as disdain in other drivers, Ostmann said.

"This is more of a peer-pressure sort of bill. Hopefully it will be intimidating to the offender," Ostmann said at the Tuesday hearing.

That's what a Boston judge found when he drove around incognito in a car bearing the "scarlet letters." He said other drivers avoided him or gave dirty looks.

Four other states, Florida, Ohio, Oregon and Minnesota, have passed bills requiring special license plates labels for repeat offenders.

Ostmann said she originally wanted license plates labels, but decided a removable sticker was better because other people besides the targeted driver were likely to use the car. Given the fixed schedule for issuance of license plates, the sticker approach would also give judges more flexibility, she said.

Under Ostmann's proposal, the sticker must be shown for 3 months after a driver's license is reissued following a drunk-driving conviction.

In one of its provisions, the bill states those failing to display the sticker can face up to one year in jail.

But some officials admitted enforcement would pose a problem.

"You'd have to have some reason to stop them to begin with," said Col. Weldon Wilhoit, superintendent of the Highway Patrol.

During Tuesday's committee hearing, Rep. Carson Ross, R-Blue Springs, also expressed doubts.

"The reality of the matter is, if it was me, I'm not going to stick the thing in my window," he said.