Area law enforcement agencies will be running full crews on New Year’s Eve, keeping an eye out for drunk drivers.
But people can catch a ride with police and go home – instead of to jail – by calling the Great Bend Police Department’s New Year’s Eve Taxi on Dec. 31, Sgt. Gary
Davis said. People who celebrate the New Year can get a ride to anywhere in Barton County by calling 620-639-TAXI (639-8294).
Sgt. Davis and DARE Officer Jefferson Davis will be taking calls starting at 8:30 p.m. and continuing until 3 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 1. The cost is $5 per person, which will be donated to the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.
The New Year’s Taxi has been a Barton County tradition for many years. First the Sheriff’s Office manned the taxis, and later Sgt. Davis and Police Chief Dean Akings took over the driving. Akings is retiring, and his last day will be Tuesday, Dec. 30.
As usual, Doonan-GMC is donating the use of sport utility vehicles that can carry several people, and Nex-Tech Wireless is providing the phones.
The busiest time for the drivers is from 1:30 to 2 a.m., so people might want to keep that in mind and call early, Sgt. Davis said. If one driver’s phone is busy, the call will automatically roll over to the other phone, but anyone who gets a busy signal should keep trying, he added.
Over the years, the officers have made many trips to parties in the county and to communities throughout Barton County.
“Everybody’s just really happy that they’re getting a ride and it’s only five buck,” Sgt. Davis said. “Sometimes people have us take them to the bar or party, and then back home.”
The $5 donation to DARE is an especially good value when one considers the cost of a conviction for driving under the influence, he noted. “If you get a DUI you’ll spend at least $1,000, and lose your driver’s license,” he said. Fines include $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. 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.