Lyft, Uber can prevent DUIs


Photo credit: Times of San Diego


Porsha Washington fell victim to a drunk driving citation one night not so long ago. She admits she had been drinking before she decided to enter the drive-through of the Whataburger restaurant on Lake Bradford Road.

Washington, 24 and a FAMU grad, believed that she placed her foot on the break after receiving her food from the drive-through window. She hadn’t. Her foot pressed the accelerator instead.

“I thought I hit the brakes but I hit the gas and I started going really fast and I veered off to the left and the right side of my car was really damaged really bad and it ended up being totaled,” Washington said.

She now uses Uber if she’s going out and alcohol is involved.  Anecdotal evidence indicates she has plenty of company in terms of people using the ride-hailing services.

Washington, like others, believes Uber is a safe haven for people who are too intoxicated to drive. “Now when I drink, I am more aware of who’s driving and I always make sure there is a designated driver. I am the first one to order the Uber because I’d rather have a good time talking about the night than talking about the DUI we would have gotten.”

As a result of the DUI, Washington received six months of probation, 75 hours of community service and was required to take a breathalyzer test twice a month. Her license was also taken and she wasn’t allowed to have a regular license during the 6-month period.

“I can’t remember the exact total, but it was around $2,000 I believe.”

Catherine Bryant experienced a minor in consumption which is also known as a MIC. It’s a class “C” misdemeanor. This charge happens when a person under the age of 21 is given a MIC ticket for consuming an alcoholic beverage. 

“After being ticketed I started going out less overall and I stayed away from house parties and college areas,” said Bryant. “After my MIC, when I would go out to bars or clubs, I would either refrain from drinking or call an Uber every time.”

Bryant says she drank an alcoholic beverage on the way to a house party on a nearby university campus at Arizona State University. After being there for five minutes the police arrived and requested everyone to leave.

“I walked outside and they told us to sit on the ground and they ID’d all of us and breathalyzed us right there and ticketed us,” said Bryant.

About 30 people were ticketed and tested that night. A MIC is not only a misdemeanor but a hard hit financially for people who are accused. Bryant spent at least $500 in order to pay for correctional classes and tickets. 

Bryant says that apps like Lyft and Uber ensure that she and her friends can get home safely without paying the cost of tickets and putting someone’s life in danger. 

The Tallahassee Police Department has hosted a monthly safety and sobriety checkpoint. Each checkpoint runs from 11:30 p.m. until 3 a.m. and sits on a certain block marked with signs, patrol vehicles and uniformed officers. 

According to a TPD release, “The operation is designed to have a minimal impact on traffic flow and to save lives.”

Lyft is an on-demand transportation company that allows riders to request a ride and be picked up to travel from point A to point B. The app was founded in June 2012 and has taken the rider experience to another level. Lyft, which became available in Tallahassee last March, also provides an alternative to intoxicated driving and helps people make responsible choices while in the possession of a vehicle.

TPD spokesman Damon Miller Jr., that he encourages all to have a designated driver in order to remain safe on the road.

“I think it’s a great idea, you have Lyft, Uber and other local taxi companies here in Tallahassee. They definitely help in having better access to people that are under the influence and also this makes it better for all families who may or may not be involved in the traffic crash episodes,” Miller said.

Rachel Anderson is a driver for both Lyft and Uber. She usually works the Tallahassee area Thursday through Saturday and says that she comes across many intoxicated passengers in her vehicle.

“Majority of the people that I pick up are way too drunk to be driving. I am helping them in regards to that,” she said.

Anderson believes that as a driver she is helping people by picking them up from one place and being able to take them home safely. 

For the nine-month period from January 2017 to August 2017, there were a total of 8 DUI citations issued at TPD’s monthly sobriety checkpoints.