Special license tags for DWI offenders advance in Louisiana

| 5/5/2006

About 25,000 Louisiana drivers are arrested each year for driving while intoxicated, The Advocate in Baton Rouge reported. With that in mind, the state’s Senate has approved a bill that would make it easier to recognize drunken drivers.

Senators voted 33-2 to advance a bill that would require multiple offenders to attach special orange license plates with the letters “DWI” to their vehicles. The bill has been sent to the House for consideration.

The bill would require the orange plates be placed on vehicles registered and primarily driven by offenders for five years. The plates would cost $25 a year, in addition to regular license fees.

A provision added to the bill would include a fine if DWI drivers are caught driving another vehicle without the license plate.

Anyone not following the rule would face up to six months in prison and/or a $500 fine.

Opponents say the requirement would lead to unfair scrutiny and labeling of individuals. Supporters say it is needed to help the public to know that the driver could be dangerous.

The bill – SB47 – is in the House Criminal Justice Committee.

Similar provisions are in place in other states.

Georgia and Minnesota use a special combination of numbers or letters to identify motorists convicted of driving while intoxicated, while Ohio makes yellow plates with red numbers mandatory, The Associated Press reported.

In addition, Michigan uses paper tags to identify repeat offenders, while Oregon and Washington put a zebra sticker over the plate of habitual offenders.

Other states have debated similar rules this year, including California, Florida and Maryland.