Fraser Valley taxi service credited with decline in DUI arrests
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, CO Colorado
It’s not every day that a police chief takes time to publicly compliment a local business. So, when he credits one outfit with reducing drunk driving in the valley, it’s probably worth noting.
Fraser/Winter Park Police Chief Glen Trainor says that since Valley Taxi started its service in 2007, DUI arrests in the Fraser Valley have dropped by 56 percent.
“DUIs have always been a significant issue here,” Trainor said. “When Valley Taxi came on board, promoting picking up people at bars, we really started to see a difference.”
Drunk driving arrests dropped from 103 in 2007 to 77 in 2008. As of mid-December 2009, there had been only 45 DUI arrests in the Fraser Valley this year, Trainor said.
For the last two years, Trainor has contributed some of the restrictive funding he receives from DUI revenue to place ads on Valley Taxi vehicles promoting the taxi as an alternative to drinking and driving.
Last New Year’s Eve, his department only ticketed two drunk drivers, and he credits Valley Taxi for much of that.
“It’s really been a cooperative effort between law enforcement, the local bars and Valley Taxi,” he said.
The bar owners play a key role in encouraging people to find alternative ways to get home when they’ve had too much to drink, he said.
“The cabs hang out by the bars later in the evenings, but it’s the bartenders and owners that help get customers into the cabs when they shouldn’t be getting behind the wheel,” said Valley Taxi owner Curt Spencer.
The Colorado Department of Transportation calculated that a DUI costs almost $10,000, figuring in court costs, lawyer fees, remedial classes, ticket fines and increased insurance premiums. That doesn’t consider the hassle of finding transportation to work after losing your driver’s license.
The cost of a cab ride is a drop in the bucket compared to that, said Spencer.
The average ride for two people in the upper Fraser Valley costs $15. A ride to Granby costs $30-$40.
Valley Taxi also services Hot Sulphur, Kremmling and Grand Lake. Although the fees are closer to $80 to service the far reaches of the county, it still beats a DUI, Spencer said.
“Now, there is no reason to drink and feel like you need to get behind the wheel,” Trainor said.
While the Fraser Valley hasn’t had a DUI-related fatality since 1999, Trainor said, drinking and driving continues to be one of his department’s greatest concerns, especially around the holidays.
“The average blood-alcohol content of our violators is around .13, more than 50 percent higher than the legal limit of .08,” Trainor said.
Any alcohol consumption impairs ability, notes the CDOT Web site, but general rule of thumb is one drink per hour. Weight, gender, metabolism, recent meals and the strength of the drink all factor into blood alcohol levels.
Several cell phone applications are available to help roughly calculate blood alcohol content before getting behind the wheel, including a free iPhone application released by the CDOT (available through iTunes).
When in doubt, catch a ride or call a cab.
Valley Taxi runs its service daily, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., from Nov-April. To schedule a pickup, call 726-4940.
– Reid Armstrong can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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