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What was so offensive about the GHSO’s latest anti-DUI initiative?

While we tend to think of DUI prevention and enforcement as being the sole responsibility of local and state law enforcement agencies like the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, the Chattanooga Police Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol, this is far from the case.

Indeed, DUI prevention consists of more than just sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols, but rather includes public outreach programs and educational initiatives designed to help people think twice about getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.    

The agency here in Tennessee that is responsible for exactly this is the Governor’s Highway Safety Office. Interestingly enough, however, the GHSO was recently at the center of a major controversy for authorizing, funding and releasing an anti-DUI campaign that many people called both sexist and distasteful.  

What exactly did people find so offensive about the GHSO’s campaign?

The anti-DUI campaign, which was designed to try to reach a young male demographic, used some decidedly unflattering slogans and ideas. For instance, one indicated how women often look “hotter” while under the influence, while another referenced how the later discovery that a young woman is “marginally good-looking,” in addition to being “your boss’s daughter,” “chatty,” or “clingy” may be a sign that you have had too much to drink.

Are these campaign materials still out there?

No. In response to severe criticism from a multitude of groups, the GHSO pulled the campaign last month. Officials later apologized indicating that the intention was not to offend anyone, but rather to reach the age demographic perhaps most at risk of driving under the influence using edgy material.

How much did this entire campaign cost?

Reports indicate that by the time the anti-DUI campaign was brought to a halt, close to $457,000 had already been spent. According to GHSO officials, the ad agency responsible for the campaign has refunded their fee, while the money for the campaign came entirely from the federal funding the state receives every year for its impaired driving campaigns.

While it’s certainly admirable that the GHSO wants to help keep people safe, here’s hoping that they show a little more restraint going forward

Remember, mistakes happen. If you or a loved one has been arrested for driving under the influence, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

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