The New Jersey town of Evesham Township has become the first municipality in the United States to use the ride service Uber as part of a plan to prevent drunk driving. Patrons in at least 19 bars and restaurants in town can ask for a free ride home, thanks to a program that began in mid-October. Another driver-for-hire service, BeMyDD, also became part of the program on Oct. 23.
The town of 45,000 was nearing a record number of DUI charges, with the record-breaking number of 250 expected by the end of 2015. A program in September that gave free shuttle rides to more than 350 people coincided with a sharp drop in the average monthly DUI arrest number. There were only eight DUI arrests in Evesham in September, down from the monthly average of 23 since January.
The town’s mayor teamed up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to expand the program and involve modern technology. Uber and BeMyDD allow people to find rides through mobile apps. The BeMyDD program is being funded by donations from local businesses and nonprofit groups.
Free rides are available through the program from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. seven nights a week. The program runs until Jan. 2, 2016. The general manager of Uber says that the company is considering working with other towns to implement similar programs.
DUI charges are serious and carry stiff penalties for drivers. Drivers who familiarize themselves with state alcohol laws could be in a better position legally if charged with DUI. For example, drivers can lose their driving privileges immediately by refusing to take a chemical alcohol test. Drivers do have the right to refuse to take field sobriety tests. Being aware of the law and being represented and counseled by an attorney could benefit someone who is facing DUI charges.