Get Home Safely This New Year’s Eve
Dec. 31 is a night to celebrate the end of the old year and ring in the dawn of the new. For many, that means taking to bars, the streets and parties to celebrate with friends and make new ones.
Unfortunately, in a city like Austin, where folks often seem to be permanently strapped into the driver’s seat and where public transportation isn’t at its most accessible, that can mean a lot of drunk drivers on the road. This year, keep yourself and others out of danger by finding an alternate form of transportation after a few drinks.
If safety isn’t a good enough reason, maybe avoiding jail time is. Although they won’t conduct road blocks, the Austin Police Department will again enforce the No Refusal Initiative from Dec. 28 to Jan. 1, a representative said. If a driver is stopped for suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the driver will be required to breathe into a breathalyzer. If the person refuses, the officer will present a probably cause affidavit to a judge requesting permission to draw blood for analysis.
Although APD officers can enforce this initiative year-round, it is much more publicized on holiday weekends. Seventeen people were arrested for DWIs last New Year’s Eve, said Lt. Derek Galloway of the APD Highway Enforcement Command.
“We always suggest persons who are drinking make a plan,” Galloway said. “We ask that they designate a driver, call a cab or a friend, or make plans to spend the night where they will be drinking.”
Capital Metro will operate its Night Owl bus service from midnight until 3 a.m. Jan. 1, departing from 6th Street and traveling to North Lamar, Riverside, South Lamar, Cameron Road, and South Congress. For more information, check out www.capmetro.org/nightowl. Unfortunately, MetroRail service will not be extended on Dec. 31; the train will instead operate on its normal weekday schedule.
“Capital Metro encourages Austinites to leave their cars at home on New Year’s Eve and leave the driving to us,” said Erica Macioge, a CapMetro representative. “With bus routes throughout the city, riding public transit is the easiest and safest way to get around town while welcoming in the New Year.”
Another option is taking advantage of AAA Texas’s Tipsy Tow program, which offers free rides to drivers who have been drinking. Valid for members and nonmembers, a Tipsy Tow representative will provide driver with a complimentary ride and vehicle tow up to 3 miles (to home, not to another bar). Ask for a Tipsy Tow by calling 1-800-AAA-HELP (222-4357).
Pedicabs and taxis will be flooding the streets, willing to bring you home, for a fee. There’s also the option of designating a driver or simply walking home. And for those willing to shell out the big bucks, there are plenty of hotel rooms available downtown, as well as limo services.
However you choose to get home New Year’s Eve, get home safely.