New ABC program offers free rides home

by: Catherine Bilkey Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

Nights that begin with alcohol can end badly when people decide to drive.
 
Drunken-driving crashes kill about 400 people every year in North Carolina. ABC officers started a new program Friday night to get drunken drivers off the road.
 
The program works like this. Officers talk to people leaving bars and ask them if they’re too drunk to drive. Instead of testing them, officers asked if they could help the people call a friend or get them a free cab.
 
Eyewitness News got to see the new program in action in October and learned it not only could save lives but it could save money.
 
In two nights, officers stopped 92 impaired people from driving. They spent just $270 on cab rides, using only seven full-time officers to do it.
 
Comparatively, an average DWI checkpoint pulls 12 impaired drivers off the road, who are then arrested, and requires 25 to 30 officers.
 
Still, some people were skeptical.
 
“I would hope that it would work. But I don't think people who drink and drive will think to get into a cab. That's the whole point,” said Jim Divito.
 
ABC is funded by ABC stores and liquor permits, so it is not funded by tax dollars.

Read past coverage: ABC Operation Safe Streets offers safe alternatives to drinking, driving