DRIVING : A Free Ride After a Night of Revelry

When the night has dwindled to green bog mist and leprechauns have left with the last of the Jameson, there is but one sane exit from St. Patrick's Day: by Paddy Wagon.

Donated by Budget Rent A Car Corp. and driven by off-duty LAPD officers, a dozen GMC vans will offer free rides home to patrons of more than 160 bars and restaurants in the San Fernando Valley tonight. Posters and flyers will identify participating taverns.

Paddy Wagon shuttles start at 7 p.m. for lightweight tipplers and close at 2 a.m. for the serious. LAPD numbers to call--or have someone else call--are (818) 902-0336 and (818) 989-8722.

Vans are impossible to miss and look rather like a snowy Christmas in Dublin--white, decorated with green shamrocks.

Officer Tom Souza of the Valley's Traffic Division is a father of the program. His family is Portuguese, but Souza can't resist blowing his own tuba: "I'm married to a Kelleher."

Souza, of course, will be on duty St. Patrick's night. It is his chosen escape from domestic duty.

"St. Patrick's Day used to be a way of life at our house," he says. "But everywhere we went, I was the designated driver."

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