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Fighting DWI: There’s an app for that

Independence High School students John Singletary, left, and Erick Pino-Perez, along with their teacher, Marla Peters, present to Sandoval County leaders the anti-DWI phone app they developed. (Rio Rancho Observer—STERLING FLUHARTY photo)

Independence High School students John Singletary, left, and Erick Pino-Perez, along with their teacher, Marla Peters, present to Sandoval County leaders the anti-DWI phone app they developed. (Rio Rancho Observer—STERLING FLUHARTY photo)

BERNALILLO — Two local high school students hope to combat drinking and driving with smartphones.

John Singletary and Erick Pino-Perez, seniors at Independence High School, unveiled their anti-DWI mobile app in the Sandoval County Commission chambers on Wednesday. Their teacher, Marla Peters, spoke about the vision and effort behind the project.

Peters said those students “were both kind of goofy and immature” when she first met them in her classes. But as they worked together over the last four months, and accomplished something they had never done before, she noticed a change.

“Technology has made them men — I can’t explain it,” she said. “Allowing them to express themselves with this kind of technology has turned them into people I don’t recognize from the beginning of the school year. They are amazing students.”

The program is available for free in Google Play, the app store for Android phones, under the title “Sandoval County DWI.” Within a week, the creators said, it should appear in the Apple Store for iPhones and iPads.

Rod Sanchez, a neuroscientist who facilitates digital media production and training, said the project started when he approached Rio Rancho Public Schools with a desire to develop the local talent pool.

Sanchez has a grant from the New Mexico Public Education Department to expand digital media classes and projects in the schools. This fall, he will teach a digital media course at UNM West.

Peters took the assignment and enlisted help from her friend Diane Irwin, a former counselor at the high school who manages the Sandoval County DWI and Prevention Program.

Together they decided on an anti-DWI app, according to a news release from Central New Mexico Community College.

For the last several years, Peters has helped students at Independence High School produce public service announcements that warn teenagers of the dangers of DWI. Those productions run often as short commercials on MY50-TV in Albuquerque.

Pino-Perez and Singletary took classes at CNM, Peters said, to learn computer programming and the latest software from Adobe Systems Corp. They earned high school and college credit for those courses and used what they learned to design and test the app.

The students submitted several logo designs to Irwin to obtain approval from the county. They ultimately settled on a picture of the Grim Reaper, surrounded by the county name, to represent the deaths caused by DWI, Peters said.

The finished app points users to information about what alcohol will do their body, calculates blood-alcohol content, provides phone numbers for a safe ride home, links them to support groups and counselors, and displays YouTube videos with the PSAs, Singletary said.

County Manager Phil Rios thanked Singletary and Pino-Perez for their work on the app and said the county will contract with them to keep it updated.

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