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July 31, 2014

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Police plan to crack down on drunken drivers over holidays in Las Vegas Valley

Free ride programs to avoid DUIs available at several watering holes, but more limited this year from budget cuts

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Kyle B. Hansen

John Dlouhy takes a sip of a drink while driving a simulator at the T-Bird Lounge on Eastern Avenue Friday to demonstrate the effects alcohol has on driving. Police are planing extra patrols and DUI checkpoints over the next two weeks for the holidays.

Participating venues

Locations participating in the Designated Drivers program, which runs from Christmas Eve to Jan. 2, are:

Cannery Casino

Westside Cannery

Cheetah’s

Lucky Lounge

Nora’s

Rampart Casino

Rum Runners

Steiner’s Pub

T-Bird Lounges

Smoke Ranch Junction

Escape Lounge

Goodtimes

Shucks

3 Tomatoes and a Mozzarella

Torrey Pines Pub

Jakes Tavern

3 Angry Wives

Spearmint Rhino

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

Tenaya Creek Brewery

The number to call for a Designated Driver ride home is 702-456-7433.

Local law enforcement officials are issuing threats and alternatives to drivers who may be tempted to get behind the wheel after drinking during the holiday season.

Extra police officers will be patrolling the Las Vegas Valley during the next two weeks, specifically looking for motorists who are driving under the influence. There are also DUI checkpoints planned, although police have not announced specific locations yet.

Holiday partiers do have some options to avoid a drunken-driving arrest, although the options are somewhat more limited than in past years.

Designated Drivers Inc. has in the past offered free rides home for people who need them, but this year budget cuts have limited the program’s offering.

Last year, the organization provided rides for 2,000 drivers around the holidays, thanks to funding from the state Officer of Traffic Safety and from State Farm Insurance.

This year, funding from the state was cut in half, giving them enough money to cover about 600 rides, the number provided on New Year's Eve and Day alone last year.

“On New Year’s Eve there’s tons of parties at people’s homes and unfortunately this year we can’t pick people up as part of this program,” CEO Billie Smith said.

The organization has cut back the number of days it will provide the free rides this year and is only providing rides from bars that have paid a $100 fee to become an affiliated location.

The organization provides rides year around to people who have had too much to drink, but normally charges a $60 fee plus a mileage fee.

For those who do need rides from locations not participating in the program, the mileage fee will be waived during the holiday season.

In the past, Designated Drivers has also offered free rides on St. Patrick’s Day, Super Bowl Sunday and Cinco De Mayo, but “as it stands right now, it’s not going to happen,” next year, Smith said.

Designated Drivers not only gives people a ride home so they aren’t driving drunk, but it gives the ride in the person’s own car, so it is not left behind at a party or bar.

AAA will be providing a similar service for the holidays, but instead of getting a ride home, callers will get a tow home.

The Tipsy Tow program is only offered from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. Anyone can call 800-222-4357 and get a free tow up to 10 miles, even if they are not a AAA member.

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  1. Metro has no credibility in talking about safe driving. They could have killed people coming out of Buck's Bar.

  2. Getting drunks off the road should be a priority every day of the year. What, I should get killed or injured by a drunk during a non-holiday period and that's okay? There is no excuse for drinking & driving. Period!

  3. I call bs Tom

  4. Are the rides really free or are they paid for by proxy?

    And do they have extra officers or are they temporarily reassigned?
    And if this is a big success as far as getting the drunks off the road then maybe metro should look at making it more permanent no.

  5. No police checkpoints, Charlie!

  6. There is no reason at all to drink and drive in this town. There is always a way to get home if you drink.

    The courts are way to easy on drunk drivers in this county. Time to toughen up on the laws and protect those that don't want to be killed by a drunk driver.

    I am glad Metro is on it again this year and hope they hold everyone they catch until after New Years.

    I don't care if you drink, just don't drive if you do. Have a great holiday!