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California Officials Hope New App Helps Decrease DUI

The free app aims to prevent DUI-related crashes, injuries and deaths by allowing people to request a ride home from transportation companies like Uber, Lyft or Curb.

(TNS) -- State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson unveiled a new app Monday to law enforcement officers in Ventura County that officials hope will encourage safe driving during holidays and year round.

“Vehicles can be deadly weapons,” Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, said during a news conference Monday at the California Highway Patrol office in Ventura. “We need to be attentive, we need to be sober, we need to make sure we have a designated driver who is going to take responsibility if we’re out there celebrating.”

She said that while the message may sound like a broken record, this year the California Office of Traffic Safety launched the DDVIP app to help prevent DUI-related crashes, injuries and deaths.

The free app, designed by Aloompa LLC, allows people to request a ride home from transportation companies like Uber, Lyft or Curb. People also can find restaurants that offer designated drivers free or discounted nonalcoholic beverages and food.

Jackson said nearly a dozen restaurants and bars in Ventura County have teamed up with the app and officials are hoping for many more.

CHP Coastal Division Chief Reggie Chappelle said he downloaded the app to better understand its features and found several establishments near his home offering incentives to designated drivers.

“We hope that this results in fewer people drinking and driving,” Chappelle said.

Officer Steve Reid, spokesman for the Ventura-area CHP, agreed. “I think any technology that helps us get the message out that you shouldn’t be drinking and driving is a good thing,” Reid said.

Law enforcement agencies attending the news conference Monday said they will crack down on DUI drivers starting New Year’s Eve and continuing through the weekend.

During the maximum enforcement period from Christmas Eve through Sunday, the CHP arrested 26 people on suspicion of DUI in Ventura County and 894 people statewide.

Jackson said while the holidays are a time for celebrating with family and friends, they can quickly turn tragic. She called this time of year “challenging” and “dangerous.”

“We do need to make sure everyone puts safety first,” Jackson said. “The message is to buckle up, avoid distractions like cellphones while driving and don’t drink and drive and then always designate a sober driver.”

©2014 Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.)