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UC Riverside Professor, Students Create App to Help Catch Drunk Drivers

The team behind the project has dubbed the new software the "DuiCam," and say it lets drivers use their cell phones to easily record erratic drivers.

A software application designed by a UC Riverside professor and his students to make it easier for concerned citizens to record vehicles whose drivers may be drunk is beginning to catch on, according to campus officials.

The DuiCam app, created by computer science professor Frank Vahid, has been downloaded about 1,000 times by Android phone and iPhone users who want to help get drunks off the road, according to UCR.

The app, available for free at http://duicam.org/, is configured to automatically record all traffic movements in camera range when a motorist mounts his or her video-equipped mobile phone on the dashboard or front windshield.

The device records 30 minutes of video, then begins re-recording, deleting the previous footage to preserve the phone's storage, according to Vahid.

"I have observed many drunk drivers and seen hit-and-runs involving a drunk driver, and in every case we have the same situation: We see it happen, call 911 to report it and the first question the police have is, 'What's the license plate?"' Vahid said.

"These things happen so quickly and license plates are quite small, so it's very hard to get it at the time," he said. "That's why I was thinking it would be helpful to have a device that's always recording what's in front of the car."

The DuiCam app makes it possible to email either snapshots or full- length video recordings, the professor said.

The program was the product of more than five years' work, during which Vahid consulted police officers, prosecutors and psychologists to refine the concept.

It's now undergoing improvements. Campus officials said students who worked to program the original app -- computer science majors Timothy Cheney and Daniel de Haas -- are concentrating on building in enhancements, including automatic license plate recognition.

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