Countywide : Cab Companies to Offer Free Rides to Drinkers

Free taxi rides for holiday celebrants who have had too much to drink will be provided beginning at midnight on Christmas Eve through Jan. 2, a spokesman for local cab companies and beer distributors has announced.

"Taxitime," a program designed to get drunk drivers off the road and home safely, is being paid for by five Orange County beer distributors, Yellow Cab Co. of North Orange County and Coast Yellow Cab Co., spokesman Larry Goodson said.

This is the third year the program has been offered, but its sponsors have expanded the program this year to cover virtually all of Orange County, Goodson said.

In the first year of operation, 135 people used the service, but last year only 94 took advantage of the free rides, Goodson said.

"Not only were there fewer rides given, but the rides were shorter" in distance, Goodson said. "It's a positive trend. They were drinking closer to home and there weren't as many drinking to excess."

This year 2,400 on-site licensed bars and restaurants in the county will be given telephone numbers to use when a patron needs a safe ride home, Goodson said. Last year, the program included only 1,000 bars and restaurants, he said.

"We want to do our part to help reduce the number of potential drunk drivers on the road and thus reduce arrests, accidents and deaths caused by drunk drivers," Goodson said.

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