Special license tags sought for DUI offenders in Virginia

| 1/31/2008

Some motorists convicted of driving under the influence in Virginia would be required to wear a “scarlet letter,” of sorts.

Delegate Lionell Spruill Sr., D-Chesapeake, introduced a bill that would require people with three or more DUI convictions to attach bright yellow license plates with red letters and numbers to their vehicles.

Once offenders regain their driver’s licenses they would have to pay $500 for the special plates. They would be required to keep the plates on their vehicles for five years.

Opponents say the proposed rule would lead to unfair scrutiny and labeling of individuals. Supporters say it is needed to help the public to know that certain drivers could be dangerous. Others say the distinctive plates would alert law enforcement.

According to The Virginian-Pilot, about 955 drivers in Virginia got a third DUI conviction in 2006.

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, and 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.

The Virginia bill – HB1281 – is in the House Transportation Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest in Virginia for 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor