Free services aim to keep residents from drinking and driving on New Year’s Eve
December 29, 2011
New Year’s Eve frivolity does not need to end in tragedy if residents plan ahead and coordinate a designated driver or call a cab, according to the Summit County Sheriff’s office. Some cab companies are offering free services this New Years to ensure that partygoers don’t hesitate to call for a ride home.
Park City-based R. Taxi has continued the Taxi’s Against Drunk Driving program (T.A.D.D.), offering to take patrons back to their cars the next day if they take a cab home from the bars or a party.
Co-owner of R. Taxi, Kalobe Hoopes, said that he is willing to offer the free return trip as a service to the community and to encourage people to not drink and drive.
"We started it this summer and have had about 30 people take us up on the offer to drive them back. People really appreciate it because it can be a point of stress not knowing how to get back to your car, he said. "It makes it more affordable for people to take a cab home and we plan on continuing the service for years to come."
This year, R.Taxi will also offer a sober guide driver service. For the cost of one taxi fare, two R.Taxi employees will come to pick someone up so that one employee can drive home the customer’s car.
"With this service, customers will have their car home with them that night, which will also encourage people to just call us instead of driving home after drinking because they need their car the next morning," Hoopes said.
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The American Automobile Association (AAA) is also offering free rides on New Year’s Eve as part of its Tipsy Tow program. The company said it will provide a free five-mile tow of a vehicle and a ride in the truck for the driver. Residents do not need to be AAA members to take advantage of the service.
If someone does decide to drive home after drinking, Summit County Detective Sergeant Ron Bridge said that with additional deputies on the road, a driver has a good chance of being caught.
"We ask people to simply plan ahead to avoid even thinking about drinking and driving," Bridge said. "Through state funding we have increased our patrol shifts during New Year’s weekend and will have our peak number of deputies on duty and an additional six employees on duty."
Bridge added that when people drink, judgment is the first thing to go, and that’s when the law steps in.
"Even if someone is sleeping in the back seat of their vehicle but the car is running or the keys are in the ignition that qualifies as being in control of the vehicle and can warrant a DUI. We encourage everyone to enjoy their night safely and plan ahead," he said.
Summit County Attorney David Brickey said that a first offense DUI will warrant at least 48 hours of community service or jail time and a fine of up to $1,500. A second offense carries mandatory jail time of ten days and a third offense is a third degree felony.
"While a blood alcohol level of .08 is the legal limit of driving while impaired, if we can show that someone seemed to be driving impaired, even if they were only at .06 blood alcohol level, we will still prosecute them for driving under the influence," he said.
Free services on New Year’s Eve
AAA Tipsy Tow:
A free five-mile car tow and a ride.
Free cab ride back to the car the next morning, or someone will drive the car home that night.