SoberRide has provided cab rides to nearly 500 impaired drivers so far this holiday season
Service in effect until New Year's Day
A McLean, Va., nonprofit that provides free taxi rides to drivers impaired by alcohol in the Washington, D.C., metro area expects to serve its 50,000th customer this week since it began 17 years ago. It has served close to 500 rides so far this holiday season.
The service, offered by Washington Regional Alcohol Program, began Friday and will continue through Jan. 1.
Since SoberRide began in 1993, it has provided more than 49,000 free rides, said Kurt Gregory Erickson, the organization's president and CEO.
As of Monday night, SoberRide provided 477 rides to impaired riders, with 38 of them originating in Montgomery County, Erickson said.
Last December, SoberRide provided nearly 3,200 rides, averaging around 1,000 rides per week.
Erickson said there have been instances where a cab fails to pick up a SoberRide passenger, but they are infrequent. Cab drivers have the incentive to pick up a passenger using the service because the fares are covered by WRAP, he said.
From the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily, anyone older than 21 who has been drinking alcohol can receive a free $30 cab ride home.
When drivers call SoberRide toll-free at 800-200-8294 or # 8294 on an AT&T Wireless cell phones, they will be connected to a SoberRide operator who will direct their call to one of nine participating cab companies, including Barwood Taxi in Montgomery County.
SoberRide also serves drivers in Prince George's County, the District of Columbia and Arlington, Fairfax, eastern Loudoun and Prince William counties in Virginia.
Erickson said it costs WRAP about $70,000 annually to provide the service and expenses are covered by donations from sponsors including Anheuser-Busch, AT&T, Diageo, Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation, GEICO, Giant Food Inc., Red Top Cab, Volkswagen Group of America and the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association.
Montgomery County Police spokeswoman Lucille Baur said that along with the December holiday season, Super Bowl Sunday, Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick's Day are holidays where alcohol plays a large role in celebration.
"It's fair to say there's an opportunity for more impaired driving this time of year because you have so many different holidays so close together," she said.
SoberRide also offers free cab rides on St. Patrick's Day, Independence Day and Halloween.
For more information on SoberRide, visit http://www.wrap.org/.