Honolulu Police Publish Mug Shots of Drunken Driver Suspects on Web Site

Critic: "The only logical explanation is that they want to embarrass somebody."

ByABC News
November 25, 2009, 9:19 PM

Nov. 26, 2009 — -- Drivers on the Hawaiian island of Oahu will have to contend with more than just stepped-up patrols and sobriety checkpoints this Thanksgiving holiday. Their photos may end up for all to see on the local police department's Web site.

The Honolulu Police Department Wednesday began to post photos on its Web site of drivers suspected of drunken driving. In conjunction with its other traffic safety programs, the department inaugurated the program this week in advance of the holiday, when more drunken driving arrests are usually made.

"We are posting the photos to show that a drunken driver is not necessarily a known criminal," said Maj. Thomas Nitta, head of the traffic division for the Honolulu Police Department. "It could be your relative, your friend, your co-worker."

On the home page at www.honolulupd.org, a black box with "Oahu's Drunk Drivers" links to page after page of people arrested for OVUII -- Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant -- complete with name, date and type of arrest and a mug shot.

A driver whose blood alcohol content is at .08 percent or above is considered under the influence in the state of Hawaii. The listings are of arrests from the previous week and are posted for only 24 hours, with a new set of photos every Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Honolulu police officers typically arrest 80 to 90 suspected drunken drivers every week, Nitta said. Last week's count was 56. Alcohol and speed accounted for about 20 percent of this year's traffic fatalities.

The program has met with the approval of, among others, Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

"We applaud it because we think, intuitively, it may have a preventive effect," said Arkie Koehl, chairman of MADD's Hawaii chapter. "There are no data to show that this has ever prevented anybody. We tend to think that it's not going to prevent the hardcore drunk driver or alcoholic. But the non-problem drinker or a partygoer would think twice."