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Police to put drunk drivers' names on Twitter

Montgomery County, Texas, decides that the best way to deter those who want to drink and drive over the festive period is to out them on the microblog.

Ever since someone tried to sell me on the curious notion that Houston was the Manhattan of Texas, I have become fascinated with the place.

So I am blissfully excited that PCWorld has caused my blood to turn my arteries into a NASCAR track with the revelation that police in the Houston-area county of Montgomery have decided to shame drunk drivers in a very modern way.

Yes, if you are caught driving while the special eggnog concoctions are making your nerve endings feel like Christmas lights, you will have your name on an especially festive Twitter page.

This seasonal offer only applies to those arrested between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. And the Twitter page in question will not be one newly set up for the occasion, but rather that of Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon.

Naturally, some are wondering whether this little Twittering experiment might be flying the wrong way down a lane currently occupied by the concept of "innocent until proved guilty."

The Manhattan of Texas. A home of socially-networking progress? CC Eflon/Flickr

As Houston attorney Paul B. Kennedy says, on his own blog, with a sarcasm that not even a sliver of cabernet sauvignon could dampen: "Of course the police never make wrongful arrests."

However, in Texas they do seem to be quite keen on humiliation as a palliative. No, I am not referring to the bedroom predilections of Texan lawmakers, but rather to Denton, Texas (near the slightly less Manhattanesque city of Dallas), where every arrest gets Twittered.

It has to be said, though, that the Denton Twitter page was originally conceived by an enthusiastic layperson, rather than a zealous arresting officer.

While the Montgomery County drunk-driving information that is being Twittered is not legally confidential, you might wonder whether Twittering humiliation is a reasonable method of enacting the law.

Montgomery County Vehicular Crimes Prosecutor Warren Diepraam told PCWorld: "I sincerely doubt that the fact that I've put someone's name on a Twitter page is going to affect their right to a fair trial."

And I sincerely doubt that Diepraam believes that social networking is anything other than a vehicle for honest and legal communication. However, could he be the same Warren Diepraam from Houston, Texas who, on his Facebook page, wants people to think he looks like the moon? Surely not.