BEND, OR -- This New year's Eve, there's no such thing as a free ride. In the past, various taxi, ride sharing or other local companies offered free "sober rides" to New Year revelers. Not this year.
Nathan Hambley, of Uber, says they often partner with local law enforcement to provide safe, free rides for the tipsy. And, they are offering such programs in other cities, this year, just not in Central Oregon. "We won't be doing any discounts. But, what I can tell you is that there will likely be more [Uber] drivers out on the road than normal, because it's always one of our busiest nights of the year." He tells KBND News, "Make sure that you have the app downloaded and that you know how to use it, so when time comes to go home, it's just a matter of opening the app, pushing the button, and getting a safe ride home."
Bend Police Lt. Clint Burleigh says officers are always on hand to protect and serve. And, like other local law enforcement agencies, they are increasing DUII patrols through New Year's Day. He says if they do give you a ride, it won't be home. "Will we assist them in finding some sort of rideshare? That's what we want to do. We want to make sure people are making the proper decision and the proper choices, but to say that we're going to give people rides home I think takes away the purpose of keeping people safe."
Deschutes County Sheriff's Sgt. William Bailey says don't drink unless you have a safe way to get home, "So, if they do plan to go out and celebrate this New Year's Eve, that they have a plan ahead of time, whether it's a sober driver, using an Uber or taxi; if it's a safe walk, walking home, but having an option other than driving." He tells KBND News, too often people wait until it's too late. "Once they start drinking, then their judgment is impaired. Once their judgment is impaired, they may make that poor decision. By having the plan ahead of time, by giving someone their keys, they don't have the option to get behind the wheel."
If you can't reach a ride-share program and can't stay where you are, tell Siri. A "Hey Siri, I'm drunk" prompts the iPhone to offer to dial a cab company for you.