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New penalty for drunk drivers: Download Uber or Lyft

A conviction for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs (OVI) already comes with serious penalties, from driver’s license suspension to fines to time behind bars. However, one Ohio judge is adding on a new penalty, one he believes will prevent repeat offenses: a requirement to download a ride-sharing app.

If it stops one person from driving drunk, it is worth it

According to an article from HuffPost, the judge’s reasoning for this new penalty is simple: Ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft are free to download and cheap to use. If the requirement prevents at least one person from getting behind the wheel while drunk and causing harm, it is worth it. The judge believes every judge should make this a requirement. He adds that he has no stake in either Uber or Lyft.

But do ride-sharing apps really stop OVI?

The logic behind this move seems reasonable. If someone has access to a cheap ride at their fingertips, why would they drive drunk? A piece from the New York Times points out that there is much debate and conflicting studies as to whether Uber and Lyft actually make a difference though. After all, people do not always act logically when intoxicated, and just because someone has an app on their phone does not mean they will use it.

Ultimately, the requirement to download a free app is likely to be the least of someone’s concerns if they are charged and convicted of OVI, and if it does end up helping one person not get behind the wheel when they should not, that is a good thing.