Cab-Cop Car Unveiled in Anti-Drunk Driving Effort

by Katie Pyzyk November 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm 14,903 67 Comments

(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) Arlington residents can expect to see an unusual car on the streets through the holiday season, reminding of the dangers of drunk driving.

The Arlington County Police Department partnered with Red Top Cab and the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) in the unveiling of a vehicle that’s half police car and half taxicab. The vehicle has been nicknamed the “Chooser Cruiser” because it reminds people that they have choices for getting home after drinking — in the back of a taxi or in the back of a police car.

“We are very excited to present yet another reminder of the choice people have before taking to the roads if alcohol is part of their celebration,” said Red Top Cab Chief Operating Officer Wayne Miller.

As part of the public/private initiative, Red Top donated the former taxi, which has more than 396,000 miles on it, and paid for its makeover. ACPD donated the lights on top which had previously been on a former police cruiser, and will be responsible for positioning the vehicle throughout the county. Both organizations emphasize that due to the donations, the vehicle was of practically no cost to taxpayers.

The car’s unveiling (which was delayed due to Superstorm Sandy) comes just in time for the holiday season. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 25 percent of all drunk driving deaths in the U.S. occur in December. The holidays of Christmas and New Year’s Eve see a 40 percent and 60 percent spike in alcohol related traffic deaths, respectively.

“The holiday season is a particularly dangerous time,” said ACPD Chief M. Douglas Scott. “We’re doing everything we can to both identify and apprehend impaired drivers.”

Chief Scott noted that penalties for first time drunk driving offenders include up to a $2,500 fine, a jail term of up to one year and/or the suspension of the offender’s drivers license for up to one year.

Neal Nichols, President of Red Top Cab, handed over the vehicle’s keys to Chief Scott at the unveiling ceremony.

“This retired Red Top Cab spent some of its time already taking people home who had overindulged,” Nichols said. “Let’s hope that this Chooser Cruiser will cause people to think twice and will save lives.”

Arlington is the first area in the D.C. metro to take part in this pilot program. The Chooser Cruiser will be stationed at various points around the county through the new year. It will be used in conjunction with regularly scheduled sobriety checkpoints.

“Hopefully it will change behavior. Even if it changes the behavior of one individual, it can be deemed a success,” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “Drunk driving is one of the rare public health issues that is 100% preventable.”

On the front of the car are all the badges for the D.C. metro area’s supporting law enforcement agencies. The back features the number to call for a free lift from SoberRide, a service that has provided nearly 56,000 free rides since 1993.

Starting on December 14 and running through January 1, local residents age 21 and older can call SoberRide for a free trip home, up to a $30 fare. Between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., residents can call 1-800-200-TAXI (8294), and AT&T customers can text #WRAP. One of these methods must be used to get the free ride, because calling individual cab companies directly will result in normal cab fares. More information about the program is available online.

  • Swag

    Anti-drunk driving; pro-distracted driving.

    • conquistador

      the arlington meter maids will have a field day ticketing this vehicle, it does not appear to have a valid registation (although county sticker and inspection appear up to date). $50 fine, $75 after 30 days.

      • Glebe Roader

        Purple “14” sticker on the license plate?

  • CA

    So a two faced taxi/cop car is why my taxes are going up.

    • 350sbc

      Learn to read. The car was paid for and donated by Red Top.

      • CA

        Perhaps it is you who should learn how to read.
        ACPD donated the lights on top from a former police cruiser and will be responsible for positioning the vehicle throughout the county.

        • 350sbc

          The key word there is “donated.” It was probably a surplus light bar from a wrecked cruiser.

          Again, go back to school and learn to read.

          • SomeGuy

            I’m not up in arms about this vehicle, 350sbc, but time is money. So even if we declare the light bar a wash, ACPD is still “responsible for positioning the vehicle throughout the county,” and I imagine that takes time.

            CA’s reading comprehension and logic both appear to be just fine.

          • 350sbc

            So you’re saying that the police shouldn’t spend their time, and money, to promote public safety and to raise awareness?

          • SomeGuy

            Try again, 350sbc. I said nothing of the sort (reading comprehension again?). Your attack on CA implies that this vehicle costs the county nothing. I’m pointing out where that implication is incorrect.

          • Gormley

            I appreciate 350sbc’s reasoning. It’s Dead Right Accurate, eXactly what I like about this blog.

          • SomeGuy

            I see what you did there, Gormley. And I was thinking the same thing!

          • Gormley

            The paper-thin logic and word twisting is so obvious. I’d hate to think there are two such malcontented individuals living in my county.

          • 350sbc

            Time doesn’t always mean money spent. The time could be donated, too.

          • SomeGuy

            350sbc, do you assume the gas for moving this vehicle– which will presumably be driven from point to point– will also be donated?

            How does your unsubstantiated post-hoc assumption about donated time invalidate CA’s reading comprehension?

            In light of what you’ve learned today, would you maintain that, “Learn to read” and “Again, go back to school and learn to read” were appropriate comments from you?

            Do you think maybe you should just apologize to CA and accept that this car will almost certainly cost the county some money, even though many of us consider it a negligible cost and also not a waste?

          • Daniel

            So…stuck on the cost of some cop to drive the car here and there once or twice a week? No, it’s not the reason your taxes might go up, and yes, it’s completely worth it if saves a live. As long as we’re nickle & diming, it’s worth it if, we avoid a minor fender bender, because of the cost of having a cop write an accident report.

    • Daniel

      Perhaps your tax dollars should be redirected towards reading comprehension programs: “As part of the public/private initiative, Red Top donated the former taxi, which has more than 396,000 miles on it, and paid for its makeover.”

      • YTK

        More than 396,000 miles on it??? That definitely says something about their vehicle maintenance

        • CarlJr

          A lot of the cabs in the DC area are used ones from NYC companies.

        • 350sbc

          What? Are you surprised? This mileage is minimal for a taxi cab.

          • YTK

            But not for a passenger car

          • 350sbc

            Normally, police cars are maintained very well. You can’t have a cruiser break down on you when they’re chasing a potential criminal.

            The mileage on these vehicles can reach much higher than 396k if maintained properly. I’ve been in cabs that were former cruisers with mileage over 500k.

  • Confused

    Get in the back of a taxi, or they’ll let you drive a police cruiser?

    • WeiQiang

      /\ winner /\

  • Trevor’s Lifting Partner

    Wow, this is what we spent our tax dollars on? Good job Arlington PD. What’s next, new bright uniforms for the police officers that’s half cop half ice cream truck driver? B.c we were really lacking a cop car that was half cop half cab so i’m thrilled this was finally addressed. This is exactly what we needed to use my tax dollars on. Unbelievable

    • WeiQiang

      Gas, lights & po-po time.

      “Red Top donated the former taxi, which has more than 396,000 miles on it, and paid for its makeover. ACPD donated the lights on top from a former police cruiser and will be responsible for positioning the vehicle throughout the county.”

    • BM

      Reading fail. Keep lifting because you’re not winning any intelligence contests.

      • 350sbc


    • 350sbc

      Clearly you read the entire article.

      Just kidding, you didn’t read it at all.

  • craig

    thumbnails aren’t working, can’t display them either. chrome browser

    • Rodney

      Why is no one taking the time to read the article but have the time to leave completely misguided comments. For the 3rd time in the comments alone. The car was donated by Red Top Cab as well as paying for the makeover.

      • CA

        Did you even read it? It clearly says ACPD paid for the lights (which does not look cheap), and will be responsible for moving it around the county (man hours). Not mentioned is who is paying for the upkeep of a vehicle that has almost 400k miles and gas. Also, when it states, “Both organizations emphasize that due to the donations, the vehicle was of practically no cost to taxpayers” I’d like to know what is meant by “practically” and “no cost.” But that’s just me.

        • TomFrank

          CA: No, APD did not pay for the lights, they came from surplus and it sounds like this is limited time — so they can still reuse on a cruiser later. And how do you know it will take man hours to move, there are volunteer Auxillary cops who could do it. Learn how to read.,

        • Miller

          If this stunt saves one life, or prevents one ambulance trip to a trauma center, etc… It will very likely save the tax payers money.

      • sunflower

        Rodney–welcome to your new arlnow exercise program: it’s called jumping to conclusions….

    • Brownflipflops

      They aren’t working in IE v.8 either. Also when I hover my mouse over the picture it sometimes doesn’t show the caption. Ugh, switch back to the old version. I’m all for change but this new site looks and feels like I’m on someone’s MySpace page.

    • 350sbc

      working for me in chrome

      • ACDC Hack

        Working for me using Firefox…..

    • craig

      working for me now, and shows thumbnails. Although clicking on them doesn’t load the pics, might just be a high traffic right now…its an improvement though

  • PL

    This does not bode well for a guy I know who was so drunk he tried to get in the back of an actual police cruiser, thinking it was a Blue Top.

  • Brownflipflops

    I wonder, does the back “cab” portion smell just as horrible and have sticky seats like the real thing? Not to mention my issues with the drivers. Hmm… I might go with Uber as my third option. That is until DC Cab Commission outlaws another far superior service.

    • JamesE

      When traveling down Fairfax Dr it only has two speeds, 5 mph and 50 mph.

      • SomeGuy

        Two vehicle speeds. One transmission speed: 1st Gear.

  • JamesE

    Such a rare and custom vehicle should have a fairly high resale value I hope they pay their property tax and display the sticker.

  • nom de guerre

    The Chooser Cruiser was parked on the sidewalk in front of the Clarendon War Memorial this afternoon.

  • Reading Is Fundamental

    More to the point, does anyone believe that seeing this thing will prevent anyone from drinking and driving ??

    • JamesE


    • Brian

      No chance

  • Hank

    It’s interesting that a car resting fully on a sidewalk and missing a hubcap is the symbol for sober driving.

    • 350sbc

      It’s actually not missing one. The rear wheels have the “mini” hubcaps on them, the polished part, with the rest of the wheel painted black.

    • nom de guerre

      If you really want to get technical, the rear wheel has a hubcap, which covers the hub and the front wheel has a wheelcover.

      • Hank

        I did not know that. Naturally, I rock a 2013 Escalade with 24 inch chrome spinners. I assume any vehicle that lacks chrome spinners has simply lost its hubcaps. Thank you, 350sbc and nom de guerre.

  • MrMeow

    How long until it flips?

  • Dezlboy

    Costs are relative. Let’s assume this anti-drunk driving campaign has county costs associated. Those costs are likely to be much less than the costs to the county of just one drunk-driving related accident.

  • BuckeyeGal

    You guys are so negative. I think the car will help young people think before driving after drinking. You old dokes, not sure it will cause you to think about it. I think the message is loud and clear with this dramatic vehicle.

    • Josh S

      What’s a “doke?”

    • Reading is Fun

      Hey, watch who you are calling a doke !!
      We maybe dokes but let me……….damn, I forgot what I was going to say…….

    • Brian K

      Those who drive drunk are not going to stop because they see this car

  • Noisecomplaint

    I wonder if the dui “performance expections” have increased for the cops as well.

  • MC 703

    Working for me using Netscape

  • arlnow reader

    How many of you people are writing these comments on your employer’s dollar?

  • jim

    complete waste of money — this will do nothing to curb drunk driving. intentions are worthless – results are the only thing that matters.

  • Common Cents

    Residents overwhelmingly vote to approve a $78m pool, but then balk at a few “man-hours” at $25/hr to move a crown vic a few miles every now and then. This is why we have increased tax rates, an increase in gross revenue, yet still a growing budget gap. People around here cant see the forest thru the trees. If everyone cared about the tax situation as much as a decommishioned taxicab, we would all be far better off. Once again, all the dollars and no cents.

    • Brian K

      If it was just ArlNow visitors who voted on that bond, it would have failed.

      Most people in Arlington have no idea what the bond was really for

  • Brian

    This is dumb. Not only is it dumb, but it’s not new. So much pride for ripping off someone else’s idea.

  • INezARide

    Has anyone ever used SoberRide? Does a cab show up as fast as regular dispatch? Does it work?

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