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Judge Orders Drunk Drivers to Download Ride-Sharing Apps

By William Vogeler, Esq. on June 15, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Judge Michael Cicconetti, who works at the Painesville Municipal Court in Ohio, has a reputation that reaches much farther than his jurisdiction.

Known widely for creative sentencing, Cicconetti once sentenced a woman to walk 30 miles for stiffing a taxi driver. He made a drunk driver go the morgue to view car-crash victims.

Now, as a standard condition of probation, he orders drunk drivers to download Uber and Lyft apps to their smart phones. How about a toast to technology?

Just Common Sense

Cicconetti said he came up with the idea when he realized some people will never stop drinking. Despite questions about some of his past sentences, Cicconetti's ride-hailing condition is a no-brainer. The apps are free and they could save lives.

"There's nothing crazy about it," Cicconetti told the News-Herald. "It's just common sense."

In 2016, police issued 604 citations for driving under the influence in the jurisdiction. The clerk of the court is a fan of the new probation term.

"Whatever we can do to help prevent people from driving drunk is a plus," Nick Cindric said.

"Pepper Spray" in a Sentence

Not every Cicconetti condition or sentence is as popular as an Uber app. One time, the judge stretched his judicial power to the breaking point.

He gave a woman convicted of assault the choice of going to jail for 30 days or being pepper-sprayed by the victim. She chose the pepper spray.

The sentence was carried out in the courtroom, except that the spray was a non-harmful, water-based substance. The defendant didn't know it until afterwards, and she was ordered to perform three days of community service.

Technology and Drunk Driving

A recent study indicates that ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft have not lowered the annual number of drunk driving fatalities. However, this may simply be due to the fact that there aren't enough people using the apps to make a substantial difference. Perhaps if judges follow Cicconetti's lead, more progress would be made on this front.

Cicconetti specifically hopes that judges nationwide will require drunk drivers to use such ride-hailing services. "In the next 20 years, they'll have self-driving cars anyway so we won't have to worry about it," he said.

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