Tuesday, July 16, 2024

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Tennessee Drunk Driving Prevention Campaign Cancelled Because of Impaired Judgment

By Courtesy of That Guy (United States Army) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Courtesy of That Guy (United States Army) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Tennessee residents are familiar with the Governor’s Highway Safety’s Office (GHSO) ongoing campaign to deter drunk drivers. During the summer months, the GHSO has a reoccurring theme called “100 Days of Summer Heat Booze It and Lose It”. The main goal of this campaign is to prevent people from drinking and driving on Tennessee roads. Recently, the GHSO released a new campaign meant to target young males in Tennesseans bars and restaurants by printing coasters with an anti-drinking and driving message. As discussed in a recent Washington Post article, the GHSO used poorly chosen words with this campaign to deter drunk driving and the result is a cancelled campaign.

The cancelled campaign used by the GHSO was called sexist because each coaster implied that an impaired male would make a critical “dating” mistake.  Each coaster stated:

“Buy a drink for a marginally good-looking girl, only to find out she’s chatty, clingy and your boss’s daughter.”

Once these coasters hit the public, the outcry against them was immediate. The article quotes Laura Creekmore, a Nashville marketing strategist, who stated “I’m all in favor of being snarky in a campaign, but you don’t have to be sexist to do that.” Kendell Poole, director of the GHSO, is also quoted in the same Washington Post article apologizing “for any offense” created by the campaign. He further stated “It was never the intent of the GHSO to be insensitive or insulting to women.” The goal of this particular campaign was to get the attention of younger males who may be at the bars and restaurants where the coasters were distributed.

The use of a snarky campaign to gain the attention of a certain demographic is certainly not uncommon. The United States Department of Defense understands the danger of its young service personnel “binge drinking” and uses a campaign called “That Guy” to target that demographic. The campaign uses a picture of an obviously impaired individual with phrases and words surrounding him demonstrating potential results of binge drinking or becoming grossly intoxicated. “That Guy” grabs the individual’s attention by being snarky and memorable – without being sexist.

In this author’s opinion, the intended result by the GSHO campaign is clear: don’t drink and drive. An effective campaign should be clever and memorable – but not sexist or demeaning. Hopefully the GHSO will learn from this and future campaigns will be in the news for lowering the number of drunk drivers on Tennessee roads and not for demeaning women.

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About the Author: Steven Oberman has been licensed in Tennessee since 1980, and successfully defended over 2,500 DUI defendants.  Among the many honors bestowed upon him, Steve served as Dean of the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. (NCDD) and currently serves as chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers DUI Committee.  Steve was the first lawyer in Tennessee to be Board Certified as a DUI Defense Specialist by the NCDD.

He is the author of DUI: The Crime & Consequences in Tennessee, updated annually since 1991 (Thomson-West), and co-author with Lawrence Taylor of the national treatise, Drunk Driving Defense, 7th edition (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen).  Steve has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee Law School since 1993 and has received a number of prestigious awards for his faculty contributions.  He is a popular international speaker, having spoken at legal seminars in 29 states, the District of Columbia and three foreign countries.

You may contact Steve through his website at www.tndui.com or by telephone at (865) 249-7200.

 

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Steve Oberman

Steve Oberman

Since graduating from the University of Tennessee Law School in 1980, Mr. Oberman has become established as a national authority on the intricacies of DUI defense law. Steve is a former Dean of the National College for DUI Defense, co-author of a national treatise ("Drunk Driving Defense" published by Aspen/Wolters-Kluwer), and author of "DUI: The Crime and Consequences in Tennessee" (published by Thomson-Reuters/West). He has taught thousands of lawyers, judges, and members of the general public about the intricacies of this crime. Steve was selected as a Fulbright Scholar to teach American Criminal Law and American Trial Advocacy at the University of Latvia School of Law in 2019; in 2023 taught for a semester as a visiting professor at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) Faculty of Law in Budapest, Hungary; and as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Law in 2024. Steve has also presented at a number of judicial conferences in the United States and Canada as well as for law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Czech Republic Police Academy. As a Tennessee DUI attorney, Mr. Oberman has successfully defended over two thousand clients charged with Driving Under the Influence of alcohol and/or drugs. In 2006, Mr. Oberman became the first DUI lawyer in Tennessee to be recognized by the National College for DUI Defense as a Board Certified Specialist in the area of DUI Defense law.

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