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Free rides home available in Rock, Walworth counties on New Years Eve

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GINA R. HEINE
December 31, 2010

If you’re heading out tonight to bring in the new year, don’t forget about the free rides home offered at bars that are members of the Rock and Walworth county tavern leagues.


“It is available to their patrons at no cost to them,” said Chris Marsicano, coordinator of the Walworth County Safe Ride program and co-owner of The Village Supper Club in Delavan.


Bar patrons in Rock and Walworth counties just need to ask a bartender for a voucher, and a taxi will be called. If no taxis are available, the program uses “good Samaritan” volunteer drivers.


The service is available 365 days a year, and last year Walworth County provided more than 600 rides, Marsicano said.


Despite the number of people who go out to celebrate on New Year’s Eve, it’s not one of the program’s biggest nights, he said.


Tavern owners have noticed over the years that people “tend to know to be safer on New Year’s Eve and make alternative arrangements,” whether it’s having a designated driver, calling their own taxis or getting dropped off and picked up, he said.


“The Safe Ride program is always there in case of emergency,” he said.


In Walworth County, the program is funded by the tavern league. It started about seven years ago with a $10,000 grant from the state Department of Transportation administered through the state tavern league. The county had to match the grant, and the county program has been self-sufficient ever since, Marsicano said.


Each intoxicated driving ticket issued in Wisconsin has a surcharge that goes toward the Safe Ride program.


Weather tonight could make getting home even more tricky.


Showers and a thunderstorm are possible before 9 p.m., with showers likely until midnight, according to the National Weather Service forecast for the area. The low tonight will be around 20 degrees, and the colder weather will turn all standing water and partially melted snow into sheets of ice.



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