Northland businesses, authorities urging people to take advantage of sober rides

By KBJR News 1

December 30, 2013 Updated Dec 31, 2013 at 12:28 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Many New year's Eve Plans will probably include beer, wine, and maybe even a little bit of champagne, but area businesses and law enforcement are looking to make sure those plans also include a safe ride home.

As Part of the state's Toward Zero Initiative, the Minnesota State Patrol will be stepping up enforcement on New Year's Eve looking for impaired drivers.

"We'll be out there, we'll be prepared, and we are expecting to make D–W–I arrests," said MN State Patrol Captain Steve Stromback.

He says New Year's Eve is a priority night for law enforcement, a statement echoed by local authorities.

"We're gonna have extra squads out, as we would on some of these bigger nights, certainly out there looking for impaired driving behavior, trying to take drunks off the road," said Duluth Police Department Sergeant Ryan Morris.

While New Year's Eve is known notoriously for drinking, Sergeant Morris says those celebrating are planning ahead.

"New years eve is probably not as bad as people think because there is awareness out there," said Sgt. Morris. "People are making the plans, their planning ahead for the cabs, they know there's gonna be extra patrols so they tend to be a little more cautious."

The DTA and Fond Du Luth Casino are partnering up this year by offering free DTA bus fares after five on New Years Eve all in effort to make sure those out having a good time have a plan for a safe and sober ride.

"The purpose of the program is to get people alteriors to driving and particularly if they have been out drinking, there's a designated driver," said DTA General Manager Dennis Jensen, "but we like to think of the DTA as the biggest designated driver and everybody can have fun and take the bus and they'll get home safe."

If you're ringing in the festivities across the bridge in Superior and Douglas County, bars that are members of the Tavern league provide customers with a safe ride home if they have had too much to drink or if the bartenders feel they shouldn't drive.

"We give them a voucher and fill it out and call the cab company and hand the voucher to the cab driver and they get them home and the company sends them in to our tavern league and we reimburse them for the cost of the fare," said Nancy O'Neill, owner of O'Neill's Pub and Liquor Store.

O'Neill has been part of the "Safe Ride" program since its inception in 1985. Eighty two bars in Superior and Douglas County are part of the program. O'Neill says the program helps keep drunk drivers off the road and lessens the number of DWI's.

If your celebration takes a turn further out on County Roads than the cabs go, you can still get home thanks to the efforts of designated drivers.

Proving that Duluth and Superior want you to have a good time, but be safe and ring in the New Year on a good note.

The Minnesota State patrol says plan for a sober ride, and if you are not drinking to be a sober ride for your friends and family.

Raeanna Marnati