SoberRide returns for the holidays

SoberRide, a free cab service aimed at keeping drunk drivers off the road, returns to the region Friday.

The SoberRide program, offered by the Washington Area Regional Alcohol Program, covers the cost of cabfare up to $30. (Riders have to pay for anything over $30; so if it costs $35, it costs you $5.) It will operate nightly from Dec. 14 through Jan. 1, starting service each night at 10 p.m. and lasting through 6 a.m. the following morning. 

“No matter how good your education and prevention and advocacy efforts are throughout the year, you still need to have some safety valve for these high-risk, high-alcohol consumption periods,” said Kurt Gregory Erickson, president and CEO of WRAP.

Area residents can call SoberRide toll-free at 800-200-TAXI (8294). Just remember, you have to be 21 or older to use the service.

It operates in the District as well as Virginia (Arlington, Fairfax, eastern Loudoun and Prince William counties and the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas and Manassas Park) and Maryland (Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and the cities of Rockville, Bowie, College Park, Gaithersburg, Greenbelt and Takoma Park).

WRAP, a nonprofit organization, spent about $50,000 last year providing SoberRide during St. Patrick’s Day, Independence Day, Halloween and the holidays at the end of the year. This year, WRAP contracted with nine cab companies. 

Remember to be patient if you use SoberRide. It’s a free cab ride home during the season of holiday parties and celebrations, so obviously it’s a popular service.

“I don’t know how much more we can convenience the would-be drunk driver,” Erickson said. “The call is free, the service is free, we’re offering this for two and a half weeks and we offer it until 6 a.m.”

Be prepared for long waits and busy signals. Try to call well in advance of when you want to be picked up, in case you need to call a few times or wait a while. You can’t schedule a ride in advance, so calling that number is the only way to go. Just remember, a long wait is safer than getting behind the wheel when you’ve been drinking. 

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.

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Mark Berman · December 13, 2012

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