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The consequences of DUI: Jail time, fines and app downloads

Thanks to an Ohio judge, Uber and Lyft received some free publicity, not to mention additional app downloads and registered customers.

The explosive growth of ride-sharing services makes the decision to drive drunk somewhat head scratching, particularly for Judge Michael Cicconetti. He has become the first judge to insist that DUI offenders not only download the ride-sharing apps and connect them to their credit cards.

Simple downloads will not replace the standard fines, license suspension and jail time normally associated with drunk driving. However, making the apps accessible could prevent repeat offenders and discourage potential first-timers.

Even Uber and Lyft’s much-derided surge pricing no longer seems so bad when considering the cost for failing a breathalyzer test.

Cicconetti believes that courts nationwide should employ his approach. He is quick to point out that he has no financial interest with the companies. The jurist sees his creative sentencing option as a common sense decision where free technology in the form of an app provides people that option.

In the past, Uber and Lyft have promoted their services as an option for impaired vehicle owners who want to get home after a night on the town. Uber set up a kiosk in downtown Toronto that featured a breathalyzer. Participating drivers were offered a free ride home if test results showed they were too drunk to drive.

Lyft teamed with Budweiser for several weekends to provide complimentary rides for partygoers in certain regions of the country.

Ride-sharing is all the rage, but soon could be replaced by self-driving cars. For now, revelers have the option of reaching for their cell phones and keep their keys in their pockets.

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