Judges have a large amount of discretion when sentencing defendants. The sentence that a judge ultimately hands down depends on a number of factors including facts and circumstances of the case. Sometimes, judges choose to get a bit creative with their sentences and add a unique penalty to the standard ones that are imposed.
This is what happened recently in Ohio when a judge decided to add an extra condition to the standard conditions of probation that are imposed on those who are convicted of DUI, called Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated in that state. According to Fox8, Painesville Municipal Court Judge Michael Cicconetti is requiring that defendants “install and activate the Uber and Lyft rideshare apps on their smartphones as a condition of probation.” He is ordering defendants to do this in an effort to “reduce the approximately 700 cases of [DUI] that come before him annually.” The judge stated, ““Hopefully they'll just go to their phone, touch that button and have a ride and save another OVI, or more importantly, save them from being hurt or hurting someone else on the road.”
Uber and Lyft are popular apps that allow users to “hail a ride with the touch of a button.” In April, the New York Times reported on several studies that looked at whether or not Uber was effective at reducing drunken driving rates. The studies reached varying conclusions on whether the ride-sharing app was helping or not. One study conducted by “a doctoral candidate at the City University of New York [CUNY] Graduate Center” found that there was a “25 to 35 percent reduction in alcohol-related car accidents since Uber came to town in 2011, as compared to other places where a ride-hailing company doesn't operate.” While the author of the study stated that “the trend seems to be pointing toward ridesharing reducing drunk driving incidents,” she also stated that more evidence was needed.
Another study reported by the Times found a different conclusion. In this study, which was “published in the American Journal of Epidemiology last year, looked at 100 densely populated counties across the United States and found no correlation between the rollout of Uber services and the number of traffic fatalities.” The author of this study stated that there are numerous factors at play and that it's too early to say if Uber is helping to reduce drunk driving rates.
Other studies reported by the Times also found results similar to the study out of CUNY. These studies have “noted a correlation between Uber services and lower rates of alcohol-related accidents.” In addition, a study done by Uber also found that the company's presence was having an impact on things like drunk driving arrest and alcohol-related crashes.
While the impact ride-sharing apps have on drunken driving rates may need more study, they do provide those who have been drinking with an alternative to getting behind the wheel. Perhaps in the future, more courts will choose to follow the lead of Judge Cicconetti and will also ask defendants convicted of DUI to download a ride-sharing app as a condition of probation.
If you are in need of a Forsyth County DUI Attorney, please do not hesitate to call the Law Offices of Richard Lawson today. Richard Lawson has been defending those accused of DUI for over twenty years. Let his experience and knowledge work for you. Contact the office by calling (404) 816-4440 or online.