If you decide to ring in 2020 with alcohol Tuesday night, the New Year’s Taxi service will once again be available to ensure you make it safely home from your New Year’s celebration.
The taxi will again run from 10 p.m. on Dec. 31 to 2 a.m. on New Year’s Day, according to Scott Donovan of Eagle Radio, the taxi’s promoting sponsor.
This year, Sunflower Diversified Services will be providing transportation and drivers for the taxi service, which will cover communities throughout Barton County.
According to Donovan, the van Sunflower will be using will be able to accommodate up to six passengers at any one time.
Sunflower Diversified CEO Jon Prescott explained the vehicle being used is a blue van and will have Sunflower Diversified signs on the doors so users will be able to identify the vehicle.
Prescott feels it is an important project to be a part of.
“(It’s important because of) the safety it provides,” Prescott said. “If it reaches the point where they’re unable to drive, we’re here to get them home safely.”
“It’s all about keeping them safe as well as others on the road,” Prescott said. “If they need a ride, we’re just a phone call away.”
Donovan stressed, “(The taxi is) not to take you to the next party, but to take you home.”
The cost for the taxi is a minimum $5 donation, which will go to fund the Sunflower Diversified studio project.
Nex-Tech Wireless will provide the cellphones used by drivers for the taxi service this year. The phone number for the taxi service, as in past years, will be 620-639-TAXI (639-8294).
The service has been provided for many years, and was initially operated by local law enforcement personnel.
Now, it is volunteer-operated, and is backed by several community businesses.
Even if you do not use the taxi, though, law enforcement agencies stress the importance of not driving while under the influence of alcohol.
Great Bend Police Chief David Bailey said, “People need to use common sense. They understand if they’re drinking they should not be driving; they need to get a ride home.”
Bailey said aside from the fines, there can be a lot of other unintended consequences to driving intoxicated. “The financial thing can hurt you, some places you can even lose your job. It can be a pretty severe penalty.”
According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, “In Kansas, it is against the law to drive or attempt to operate a motor vehicle while having a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above.”
The penalties, even for a first driving under the influence (DUI) offense are steep. A first offense includes a mandatory 48 hours in prison or 100 hours of community service, court-ordered alcohol and drug safety education and/or treatment program at your expense, and fines ranging from $500 to $1,000 plus court costs, probation and evaluation fees, plus a mandatory 30-day license suspension, and escalates dramatically for subsequent offenses.
A KDOT summary of DUI penalties can be found at https://www.ksdot.org/burTrafficSaf/brochures/pdf/ksduilaws.pdf.
Bailey said if you are not the one drinking, you can also help keep others safe.
“If (they are sober and) they see a friend of theirs who needs a ride home, give them a ride home.”
According to Donovan, Haz-mat Response Inc., Z’s Liquor, Miller Plastics, Center for Counseling and Consultation, and Stone Sand/Stone Waste Management are also business sponsors of this year’s taxi service.