A Painesville, Ohio judge has taken a millennial approach to his sentencings, as he has begun to force people charged with DWI to download Uber and Lyft.
Judge Michael A. Cicconetti, a veteran Ohio judge, one day realized that there are going to be some people who you simply cannot stop from drinking, so he has begun to do the next best thing — stop them from drinking and driving.
Beginning in late May, Cicconetti began requiring OVI offenders to download the Uber and Lyft to their smartphones and enter a credit card number as a condition of probation to inspire them not to drink and drive.
“There was a fellow in here that I knew from Fairport. I see him at the clubs and organizations I belong to,” said Cicconetti. “You’re not going to stop this person from drinking. Years ago I came to the realization that some people — it just doesn’t make sense to send them to these alcohol programs because they’re not going to stop drinking, period. What you want to do is stop them from drinking and driving.
“This guy was drinking at the Hungarian Culture Club. I said, ‘Steve, for God’s sake, you only live a few blocks down, why didn’t you just call Uber or Lyft and get a ride? It can’t cost you more than three dollars!’ He said, ‘I don’t know how to do it.’ I said, ‘I tell you how you’re gonna do it. You’re gonna go back to probation here today and they’re gonna show you how to do it. And I want you to install that.’
In 2016, there were 604 citations for OVI issued for defendants who appeared in Painesville Municipal Court.
Cicconetti said the repeat drunk driving offenders gave him the idea. He said he hopes all municipal judges start requiring OVI offenders to activate such ride service apps.
Cicconetti has become known for his brand of justice, which he refers to as ‘creative justice’. Cicconetti will often leave the choice of penalty up to the defendant, who is faced with spending time in jail or undergoing one of Cicconetti’s unusual punishments. These options often involve placing the defendant in a similar position to that of the defendant’s victim at the time of the crime.
He once offered a 26-year-old Ohio housewife the option of spending a night in the woods for abandoning 35 kittens in a forest in wintertime. In another case, he ordered noisy neighbors to spend a day of silence in the forest or listen to classical music instead of rock.
And his methods appear to be effective, too. While the national for repeat offender rate is over 75%, the rate in Judge Cicconetti’s court is at 10%.