You know the holiday party season is in full swing when police tout their don't-drink-and-drive campaigns and an Omaha law firm springs for taxi rides for revelers.
Hauptman, O'Brien, Wolf & Lathrop's annual Holiday Safe Ride Home program begins tonight and runs through New Year's Eve.
Attorney Steve Lathrop said the firm has sponsored holiday rides since 1990. It paid for a record 3,200 taxi rides in 2012.
“Every year, the program gets more and more popular,” Lathrop said. “We hope it helps people develop a habit of calling a cab when they're drinking any time of year.”
Lathrop said cab rides can originate and end only within Douglas or Sarpy County. Callers must advise the call center at the time they request cab service that they would like to use the Holiday Safe Ride Home.
“You can't just hail a cab in the Old Market,” Lathrop said. “We do need a call to be placed so the cab company can keep tabs on our bill.”
To request a ride, call Happy Cab at (402) 292-2222 between the hours of 8 p.m. and 3 a.m.
The free cab rides begin as law enforcement agencies beef up efforts to take drunken drivers off the road.
Col. David Sankey of the Nebraska State Patrol said troopers will begin high-visibility patrols Friday as part of the “You Drink and Drive, You Lose,” campaign.
“If you choose to celebrate, do so in a safe, responsible manner; always have a designated driver; and never get behind the wheel impaired,” Sankey said.
“We hope all motorists will join with us in helping to prevent alcohol-related crashes and fatalities by choosing to never drive impaired.”
Lt. Tom Dargy of the Sarpy County Sheriff's Office said the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety distributes grants to pay for overtime for the campaign. The State Patrol, for instance, will receive nearly $28,000.
Impaired or reckless drivers may be reported by dialing 911 for local law enforcement. The State Patrol's Highway Help Line can be reached by dialing *55 when safe to do so from any cellphone or (800) 525-5555 from any land line.
“I think it's important to remind the public of these drinking and driving enforcement campaigns,” Dargy said. “People can save themselves a whole lot of trouble by arranging for a designated driver or taking advantage of the Hauptman, O'Brien offer of a free taxi ride.”