Don’t drink and drive on New Year’s Eve, ride safe for free

Why start the new year off with a DUI?

Why start the new year off with a DUI?

The Juneau-Lynn Canal Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association (CHARR) is sponsoring its annual New Year’s Eve Safe Ride Home program, where taxis with flashing green lights will provide free rides home from downtown bars, as well as a number of locations in Douglas and the Mendenhall Valley.

“We want to make sure our community is safe and that people can have fun,” said Leeann Thomas, owner of the Triangle Club Bar and member of CHARR. “We try to get as many cabs on the road as we can.”

The program, which has existed in Juneau since 2005, is modeled on a number of similar programs in Ketchikan, Kodiak and Anchorage, which Thomas said have enjoyed a lot of success.

“Every year’s a little different,” Thomas said. “We’ve given over 12,000 rides home.”

Money is raised by donations from the bars participating in the program and from dues, pull tab sales and donations from brewers and alcohol importers, Thomas said. The cab drivers are paid their hourly rates plus a bonus, Thomas said. Thomas also encouraged riders to tip their drivers for the tough job they’re doing.

“We know it’s a hard job. Please be patient with the free cabs because it’s free,” Thomas said. “We want you to go to those bars and call from those bars. The green flashing lights means the cab is free, and we really want to get everybody home.”

Thomas felt that the rides have cut down on the rate of DUIs on New Year’s Eve. Juneau Police Department did not respond to phone calls to confirm this.

“We slowly add on cabs until a little after midnight, and we go till a little after 3. We want people to get out and get in line by 3,” Thomas said. The rides run from 9 p.m. until about 3 a.m.

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