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Our Opinion: Sober Driver program may be just the ticket

News Tribune editorial

The holiday season creates an added dimension to the personal and societal challenges linked to drunken driving.

Chronic drunken drivers are an ongoing problem that is being addressed on a number of fronts. We commend: lawmakers for tougher legislation; law enforcement officers for their proactive efforts, including sobriety checkpoints; judges who preside at DWI courts that promote recovery; and organizations, including MADD and SADD, that raise awareness.

During this holiday season, the problem may extend to social drinkers who otherwise would avoid drunken driving.

An evening out with old friends back in town for the holidays may result in having “one too many.” The host of a dinner party may uncork “just one more” bottle of wine. Holiday party-goers may be persuaded to have “one for the road” — a chilling phrase that speaks for itself.

The simple fact is when judgment becomes increasingly impaired, the person is less likely to say “no.”

That’s why the Sober Driver program is a valuable solution, both for drivers with a blood alcohol content in excess of the legal .08 limit and for the potential victims.

Sponsored by the Jefferson City Police Department and Fechtel Beverage, the program continues to provide free taxi rides for drivers who are legally intoxicated and for passengers who choose, wisely, not to ride with an impaired driver. Since its inception, the community-based program has provided more than 10,000 rides.

Here’s how it works.

Free taxi rides may be arranged from a drinking establishment or from a private party, if the party host has acquired tickets in advance.

At drinking establishments, a patron or employee may call 636-7102 to arrange for a Checker Cab to be dispatched to the location. A “Sober Driver” ticket is provided by the business to the person needing a ride.

Hosts of private parties must acquire tickets in advance by contacting Fechtel Beverage, 425 W. Elm St., 636-5161, or Sgt. Doug Ruediger at the Jefferson City Police Department, 401 Monroe St., 634-6397. Those tickets expire after the event.

All Sober Driver tickets are valued at $10; any costs exceeding that amount are the responsibility of the rider. The destination of the ride must be home or a hotel.

Don’t ruin the holidays by spending time in a hospital, holding cell or courtroom.

Alternatives — abstinence from alcohol or a designated driver — exist. For situations where alcohol consumption exceeds what was intended, Sober Driver may be just the ticket.

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