Let the punishment fit the crime — that’s the approach an Ohio judge has taken on drunk drivers, who might have avoided driving under the influence if only they’d pulled out their phones and used a ride hailing service. Judge Michael Cicconetti of Painesville, Ohio has mandated that drunk driving offenders must download the Uber and Lyft apps and connect them to a credit card.
That simple measure is on top of the usual fines and jail time associated with DUIs, of course, but the hope is that it will help those convicted avoid reoffending. After all, even surge pricing is cheaper than the thousands of dollars you can end up paying if you’re over the limit at a roadside checkpoint or fail a breathalyzer test.
Ohio State Highway Patrol statistics show that in the first half of 2017 there have been 12,510 stops for drivers operating a vehicle under the influence. Nationwide statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that 28 people die every day from drunk driving, and that drunk driving accidents cost $52 billion per year. The national statistics don’t include accidents involving drivers under the influence of drugs, a growing problem given the nationwide opioid epidemic.
The hope is that by instituting measures such as installing breathalyzers on the car ignitions of first offenders and then offering transportation alternatives like ride hailing, those numbers will drop even further. If the Uber and Lyft idea works in Painesville, it may be easy to convince law enforcement in other counties and states to include similar clauses in sentencing. And hey, a court-mandated Uber ride is certainly better punishment than some alternatives, like being attacked by a swarm of bees.