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Clarksville looking to publicity to prevent drunk driving

Driving under the influence is against the law. That's as it should be. The danger that a drunk driver poses to him or herself and to others who are on the road is high. The people of any Tennessee community have a right to feel secure from such lapses in behavior.

The crime of drunk driving is like any other, however. It requires a conviction to warrant punishment. The consequences for conviction can be so severe and affect one's life so much that the allegations need to be faced with a strong defense. Achieving the best possible outcome is most likely to occur with the help of experienced legal counsel.

While anyone accused of a crime is supposed to be granted the presumption of innocence, that's hard to guarantee when word of those accusations are made public. And, when it comes to DUI allegations, authorities are not above leveraging the potential power of public opinion to enhance their enforcement efforts. The latest example of this may be seen in an announcement out of Clarksville.

Police in that city have started a new program that holds up individuals who have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence to public scrutiny before they have ever had their day in court. Every day, police release the names and mug shots of people who were taken into custody the day before. The information on ten people was released to area media after the recent Presidents' Day holiday.

The tactic, amounting to public ridicule, is held out by authorities as a way to make people think twice before choosing to drink and drive. While that intent may be positive, some legal experts might legitimately offer the view that such publicity is prejudicial to the accused -- preventing them from receiving a fair trial.

Source: WTVF-TV, "New Plan to Crackdown On DUI In Clarksville," Adam Ghassemi, Feb. 19, 2013

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