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SoberRide Program Provides Free Rides Home

by Katie Pyzyk December 19, 2011 at 3:50 pm 6,585 15 Comments

A lot of people celebrate the holiday season with alcohol, which can make the roads dangerous. To keep the streets a little safer from potentially impaired drivers, SoberRide is offering free taxi rides home.

From now through January 1, riders in Arlington and the surrounding areas can receive a free cab ride home, up to a $30 fare. The Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WARP) teamed up with several sponsors to offer the service. Multiple taxi companies, including Arlington’s Red Top Cab, are participating in the initiative.

Riders must be at least 21 years old and follow a few guidelines, including not reserving a taxi in advance. The service runs from 10:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m.

All calls must go to 1-800-200-TAXI. Do not call your local cab company directly to request SoberRide services. There is more information about the program on the WRAP website.

  • novasteve

    What happens if a lot of people use it? If they are told there’s a 2 hour wait, this won’t encourage anyone to actually use it.

  • Sure

    If you want to wait until 5 am for them to finally pick you up and/or wait for them for 3 hours to get there. This sober ride is a total joke. Cab drivers will have more than enough customers on New Year’s Even, they won’t bother to answer the Sober Ride calls, they never do.

    • True

      For anyone new to the area, don’t even bother, just call the regular cab company and wait 3 hours vs 7 hours.

  • Southeast Jerome

    SOBERride is the worst. The cabs never show up. Its a great feel good story, but its a pain for the cab companies who have plenty of hammered people that wont notice being overcharged and taken for a ride.

    What they really could do is just create a voucher system where you print out a voucher before hand, get in a cab with any company that participates, and then give the cabbie the voucher.

    Its hard enough to get a cab from DC back to Arlington. Imagine if you want to use this program!!! Finished.

    • Sure

      The voucher seems like a good idea.

      The Sober Ride is just political bs that was created to make it look like the government is doing something to help with all of the drunk drivers. In the end it’s a complete waste and not worth it. Too bad the cab drivers can’t be held accountable for never showing up when a Sober Ride customer calls for their assistance. Cab drivers in general are on the same level as the common street criminal (that’s my opinion).

  • charlie

    Arlington is an enabler.

    • MomofTeens

      Yes, by all means, we don’t want to enable anyone, so let’s cancel this program, and then no one will drink on New Years and we’ll all be safe.

  • MomofTeens

    You have to be 21 years of age…because of course, we know that high schoolers and college students under 21 would NEVER drink…yes, by all means, lets pretend that they don’t drink, and then let them try to DRIVE THEMSELVES HOME after doing tequila shots. This makes perfect sense.

    • Sam

      Or, you can just let the cab companies pick up your drunk 17 year old and then you can sue them because your little precious only drank because they knew they could get a free ride home…so it must be their fault right? Not yours?

      If you’re so worried about it; you can offer underage drinkers a ride home for free. Or, get together with all the other parents out there who allow their kids to drink or pretend to not notice and you all offer your teens a way to get home safely and not criticize the private companies for not appearing to encourage or accept underage drinking.

      • MomOfTeens

        Not encouraging, just being realistic instead of thinking that saying do not do this will always result in them following that. Kind of like “let’s not give them sex ed because that will only encourage them to have sex”…and then shocked when they end up pregnant or with an std because they had no knowlege/access to birth control. We all do offer rides home and routinely beg our kids to call us, or other parents, if they or anyone else they know is drunk,,,but the reality is that they don’t. No one is talking about suing anyone. It’s about doing everything possible to keep kids safe. Also love all the self-righteous parents who seem to forget they did the same thing at that age.

        • They can pay for a cab

          If these teens want the responsibility of adulthood and think they have their parents money to throw around on alcohol then they can each chip in 5 bucks and pay for a cab to drop them all off in their shared neighborhoods. I’m not totally for this program but there are guidelines for this sober ride program so that (if it were a funtioning system) it would be able to justify who it does and does not give rides to as a legit “sober ride” program. Why should they offer a free ride home to children who are underage to drink? If they want a free ride home on new years they can call their parents. I honestly don’t believe half the parents in Arlington would even get upset they’d be “proud of our kid who made the responsibile decision and didn’t drive”. Whatever.

          • MomOfTeens

            I do see what you’re saying…but in the end it comes down to trying to do everything possible to make sure a kid doesn’t end up dead, or killing someone else. If SoberRide can save one life, I don’t care if that life is an underage drinker. Whatever it takes.

  • Never_Checks_Responses

    No tax dollars for free cab rides to partygoers. WARP is partially public financed. I drink a lot on New Year’s. I don’t consider it my neighbors’ responsibility to pay for my ride home. If this was a completely private initiative then I would have no problem with this, other than the fact that it does not work well as currently executed.

  • ArlForester

    I don’t know anyone who has been able to use this program. I just figured it was an urban legend. Call for a free cab and it shows up before you find another way home? Not in my experience. Even regular cab services are nearly impossible.

  • As the President of the nonprofit organization (Washington Regional Alcohol Program) which offers the free (up to a $ 30 fare) cab ride service to prevent drunk driving, SoberRide, allow me to jump in here to clarify any of the above misconceptions and or respond to past service issues.

     Since 1993, WRAP’s SoberRide has single-handedly removed over 52,000 would-be drunk drivers from Greater Washington’s roadways.

     The program works. Since the 16th of this month through last night and via WRAP’s current holiday SoberRide program, 1,386 Washington-metropolitan area residents have done the right thing and used SoberRide rather than possibly driving home impaired. Of these nearly 1,400 SoberRides provided just in the last two weeks, WRAP has only received one complaint which was attributable to a since-rectified driver error.

     If you haven’t used SoberRide recently then you haven’t been witness to the improvements made to the program in recent years which include not only the expansion of contracted cab operators but so, too, increased capacity to handle the thousands of SoberRide calls which each year come into SoberRide’s communications center in Arlington, Virginia. The results of which have been better service, less complaints and safer roads for all of us.

     As to taxicab wait times, it’s important to note that while SoberRides are free to the user, behind-the-scenes they’re actually fully compensated by the nonprofit organization running the program. This means that in a taxicab company’s queue, a SoberRide is just as prioritized as a regular cab request (and sometimes even greater). So, if it’s a 20-to-30-minute wait for a cab, it’s not going to be any longer for a SoberRide. That said, it’s New Year’s Eve people. Call ahead.

     And regarding WRAP’s adherence to minimum legal drinking age laws in restricting its SoberRide program to those aged 21 and older, SoberRide has always been intended and marketed as an adult-oriented service serving adults as a safety valve to certain high-risk, high-alcohol consumption periods. This position is bolstered by the fact that WRAP spends the other 90-percent of the year when SoberRide isn’t offered trying to prevent drunk driving and underage drinking in the first place via public education, innovative health education programs and advocacy.

    Lastly, WRAP is committed to SoberRide’s efficacy, sustainability and life-saving results. The local, community service program whose cab fares are 100-percent privately paid for will only be bettered by users’ input which, in recent years, has contributed greatly to improving the 18-year-old program. To that end, I welcome such feedback directly at [email protected].


    Kurt Gregory Erickson, President
    Washington Regional Alcohol Program (www.wrap.org)


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