DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The problem of repeat arrests for drunk driving is one judges have had a tough time controlling. Fines, suspensions, and jail time help, but repeat offenders appear in court regularly.
Painesville Municipal Court Judge Michael Cicconetti is trying to stop the problem with a person's first arrest for OVI.
Cicconetti has heard thousands of cases against drunk drivers. Sometimes several times from the same person. What to do? The judge has begun ordering offenders to install two apps on their smartphones, Uber and Lyft.
From now on in addition to fines, penalties, and possible jail time, offenders will have no reason not to access an easy a ride home. He recently made that point to an OVI offender in court.
"So it's about $7 or $8 Uber ride," he said. "See what I'm saying? Get the point?"
Highway Patrol Officer Joe SanFillippo recently told the judge a story about an arrest.
"He has just successfully downloaded the Uber app, that's it, that's as far as he's gotten is downloading it," SanFillippo said. "So I asked him, 'So why didn't you use that?'"
The answer was he was too drunk to figure out how to enter credit card information.
After the trooper's story, Cicconetti decided he'd modify future orders. Not only will Uber and Lyft have to be installed on smartphones, they'll have to be activated and a credit card number entered. That way the person could have gotten a ride with the push of a button.
"For $7 or $8, you will have avoided whatever you had to pay your attorney," he told the offender in court. "And the $750 you're going to have to pay here and the reinstatement fee you're going to have to pay BMV, cost of insurance, cost of SR22 -- all for $8 or $10."
Add to that the issue of safety to other drivers, and those they could harm, and it is an approach that merits watching.