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Dave Roepke, Published December 19 2009

Coupons aimed at curbing DUIs over holidays

It’s going to be $5 easier to drink responsibly over the holidays.

Local taxi cabs will have coupons for $5 off the fare home from a bar during the holidays starting Dec. 23, officials said during a Friday news conference.

“It rewards making a good choice,” said Doug Restemayer, president of D-S Beverages, a Moorhead distributor of Anheuser-Busch beers.

The beer distributor is paying for the cab vouchers, 1,000 of which have been distributed to local taxi companies. The offer is good until the coupons are gone, Restemayer said.

Area law enforcement officials said they think the promotion can help tip the balance for intoxicated bar-goers who might otherwise drive home drunk.

“I’m all in favor of it,” said West Fargo Police Chief Arland Rasmussen.

The discount is only good on rides home, not to another bar, Restemayer said.

It’s not the first time the promotion has been tried in the area. D-S sponsored a similar program about five years ago, Restemayer said. Also, The Hub has a standing deal subsidizing cab rides home so that fare is a flat fee of $5.

Jeff Dowd, co-owner of Lucky 7 Taxi Service, said average cab fares in Fargo-Moorhead run about $12, so the discount should take a big bite out of most bills.

Dowd has one request for those whose plans include taking a taxi home: Don’t wait until last call to make the call for the cab. Waits at closing time can be a half-hour long, he said.

As Rasmussen put it at the news conference: “Plan ahead. That’s all you have to do.”

Capt. Eldon Mehrer, who commands the southeast region of the North Dakota Highway Patrol, said drinkers do seem to plan for safe rides when the ball drops.

Mehrer said that in 18 of the years since 1980, North Dakota has avoided a traffic fatality on New Year’s Eve. There have been fewer than 10 fatality-free years during the same time period during holidays such as Labor Day and Thanksgiving, he said.

Accident deaths around the holidays can be especially difficult for families of victims, Mehrer said.

“They always have that reminder,” he said.


Cost of a DUI


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535