This year more than ever, there’s no excuse for drinking and driving on New Year’s Eve.
In addition to the Great Bend Police Department’s annual volunteer taxi service, Barton County now has a commercial taxi service.
Those who need a ride home after celebrating can call 620-639-TAXI (639-8294). Once again, Great Bend Police Chief Dean Akings and Sgt. Gary Davis will drive people home for no charge, going anywhere in Barton County. A $5 donation is suggested to the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program. The service is available from 10 p.m. Tuesday until 3 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 1.
“We enjoy doing it,” Akings said. “We’d sooner take them home in an SUV than take them to jail in a black-and-white.”
Eagle Radio and Hull Broadcasting have coordinated the New Year’s Eve taxi with local law enforcement and business sponsors for several years. “It’s been pretty successful,” the chief said. The sport utility vehicles Akings and Davis will be driving have been donated by Doonan GMC, and Nex-Tech Wireless is donating the telephones. Other local businesses are also contributors.
The new commercial service is BMB Taxi, managed by Great Bend native Robert Miller. Call 639-3008 for a ride. He accepts credit and debit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express) and on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, BMB will be available all day and all night, Miller said.
Regular hours are 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 6:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
BMB Taxi began in Hays about five years ago. In October, Miller returned to Great Bend to open the local branch. He knows the Barton County roads like the back of his hand, and said he’ll take people anywhere. At Christmas time, he took a family from Great Bend to Montezuma. The BMB Dodge Caravan seats seven people comfortably.
“Everybody I talk to is so glad we opened something like this,” Miller said, noting people are using the taxi service on more than just holidays. Rides are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Usually the taxi can be at a local destination in 15 to 30 minutes.
A taxi ride at any price can be a bargain, especially when compared to the price of a conviction for driving under the influence. A first offense DUI carries a penalty of at least $1,000 in fines, including $250 that goes to the state DUI fund, plus another $150 for a drug and alcohol evaluation (the court can order a treatment program), plus attorney fess, lab fees and court costs ($61 in Great Bend). It also comes with an automatic 48 hours in jail or 100 hours of community service – and community service isn’t usually an option. After that, the convicted person must pay for an ignition interlock device before they are allowed to drive again.