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App Helps College Students Find Sober Drivers Via Social Media

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P.A.S.S. sober driver app logoA new Facebook app helps college students find sober drivers before they go out drinking, reports Katie LaPotin for Red Alert Politics. The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) recently launched the app — called Person Appointed to Stay Sober, or P.A.S.S. — at three Texas universities as part of a yearlong pilot program to have fewer alcohol-related accidents in that state.

TXDOT chose The University of North Texas, Midwestern State University, and the University of Texas at Brownsville because these schools provide a good sample of different sized facilities in Texas. Although these three schools are in the pilot program, use of the app is not limited to them.

The app makes it easy for students to search for Facebook friends who will agree to be sober drivers for specific events. Through the app, students can also offer their services as sober drivers, LaPotin writes.

As ThePassApp.com notes:

Driving home after even one drink can lead to a potentially fatal car crash or a very, very costly DWI (up to $17,000 in fines, fees, court costs, and jail time).

Often, a designated driver is just the least-wasted person in the group.

Unlike a designated driver — who may still be drinking, although not as much as some others — a sober driver is a friend who agrees not to drink at all and to give you a ride home. The P.A.S.S. app lets your friend who is your sober driver charge a few dollars for gasoline in exchanging for helping you, the app’s “Why Use the P.A.S.S. App” page says. Or, if you are someone else’s sober driver, you can have your gasoline paid for through the app.

Once you own the app, it works by having you log in and create an event, such as a night out, a weekend party, or a big sports game. Using the app, you then invite your friends to the event. Your friends have the option of R.S.V.P.’ing and offering to be a Person Appointed to Stay Sober (P.A.S.S.), agreeing not to drink, and providing a safe ride to your friends in exchange for some gas money. You also have the ability to offer your own sober driver services to your friends.

TXDOT said it was important to integrate the app with social media because such sites as Facebook and Twitter make it easier to communicate with college-age students, LaPotin writes. Ozuna said that students are already using social media to plan parties and events.

LaPotin quotes Becky Ozuna, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Transportation, who told Government Technology:

‘Drinking and driving continues to be a serious problem here in Texas. We just continue to see injuries, fatalities and jail time. And the reality is that these are all entirely preventable.’

Although this app is exclusive to Texas, “the consequences of excessive and underage drinking affect virtually all college campuses, college communities, and college students, whether they choose to drink or not,” according to CollegeDrinkingPrevention.gov. That site says that 3,360,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 drive under the influence of alcohol.

In 2011 in Colorado, 367 teens under age 18 were arrested for DUI, writes CenturyCouncil.org. You can see a map of Colorado showing how many people were arrested in each county for DWAI and DUI offenses. In Colorado, you can be charged with DWAI (driving while ability impaired) if your ability is impaired “to the slightest degree” by alcohol, drugs, or prescription medicine, or if your blood alcohol content (BAC) tests at more than .05 but less than .08, as No DUI Colorado writes. If you are “substantially incapable” of operating a vehicle after having alcohol, drugs or prescription medicine, of if your BAC is at or above .08, you can be charged with DUI.

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