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Community encouraged to use Safe Ride Program this New Year's Eve

LA CROSSE, Wis.--Last year, more than 200 people died on Wisconsin roads in alcohol-related crashes. With New Year's Eve just around the corner, this is one of the busiest weekends for local law enforcement officials.

If you are heading out to celebrate this weekend, the bars and restaurants of La Crosse Tavern League want to help you get a safe ride home.


Sloopy's Bar owner Adam Weissenberger is in for a long day this New Year's Eve.

"It's the only time in the year we can stay open 24 hours if we wanted to," said Weissenberger. "It's pretty busy for us this time of year."

This weekend is also one of the busiest times of the year for Sgt. James Jacobson of the La Crosse County Sheriff's department.

"We'll have more staff on duty obviously for New Year's Eve due to the high volume of people being out at later hours than usual," said Jacobson.

And as the countdown to 2012 begins, Jacobson says it wouldn't be a bad idea to plan ahead.

"Have a plan for someone to either be a designated driver and stay sober or to have a taxi or get a hotel room," said Jacobson. "The safest message we can give is, 'if you're going to drive don't drive at all.' A $40 cab ride is a lot cheaper than a drunken driving ticket and possibly getting incarcerated in La Crosse County Jail."

But there's always the option of taking a cab ride through the Safe Ride Program, too. That way, getting a ride home can be the least of your worries.

"You don't want to talk about what could have been," said Weissenberger. "You get a safe ride home, and that's what the purpose of the program is."

So, if you're going out to ring in the New Year this weekend and you've had too much to drink, all you have to do is tell the bartender or bar owner that you need a safe ride home.

They'll take care of finding a cab for you, and you can just let the bar and the state of Wisconsin pick up the tab.

"You don't have to worry about getting home safe; you get a free ride from a taxi cab," said Weissenberger. "It may take a while longer on New Year's Eve, but at least you're getting home safe.

This holiday season, the League also received another generous donation, from Preferred Distribution and Miller Lite, to help bars and restaurants, a part of the league help their customers get home safely.

"They realize that they want to do what's best for their patrons too, and they donated some safe rides to each of the bars, providing less stress on the bar tender or bar owner [from] having to buy the ticket but the ticket is provided by Preferred Distributing and Miller Lite, and then everybody gets a ride home," said Weissenberger.

This year, Preferred Distributing and Miller Light donated more than 800 tickets to the League to be split among the bars and restaurants.

People can take advantage of the Safe Ride Program all year round. More than 160 bars in the La Crosse Tavern League offer the program.

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