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Drunk drivers named and shamed via Twitter

In Montgomery County, Texas, the District Attorney's Office is using its Twitter account to name drunk drivers. The Twitter feed (see twitter.com/MontgomeryTXDAO) was previously used to report on court cases and other local events pertinent to the District Attorney’s Office, but now efforts are focusing on those motorists guilty of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).

The ‘tweets’, made by District Attorney Brett Ligon, show a running log of criminal offenders, posted by name and offense. According to Montgomery County authorities, DWI offenses are the number one criminal offense in the county. Consequently, authorities are keen to try anything that can help discourage this behavior – including using social networking sites to name and shame people. The intention is to warn anyone considering driving while drunk that if they get caught, they will be exposed on a public forum for their friends, bosses, neighbors, and indeed the whole world to see.

The information used to compose the tweets is gathered from a number of different sources, such as the local jail and the arresting police department. Whenever somebody commits a crime, it becomes a public record. This means that the tweeted information is perfectly legal and none of the named parties can claim any kind of privacy violation.
 

December 29, 2009

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