Dropping the Ball on Drinking and Driving


As New Year’s Eve weekend approaches and the merriment that follows the holiday ensues, a warning about its consequences rings a sobering note as well.


Among last year’s revelers countywide, 132 started the year with a DUI arrest, according to the state Office of Traffic Safety, and the statistics behind underage consumption at Mission Hospital are even more startling. More than 150 underage imbibers were admitted to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach’s emergency room for a substance abuse issue in the 12 months prior to June 30.


These statistics should provide a cautionary warning to irresponsible local partiers.


Endeavoring to deter drinking and driving during a holiday weekend famed for alcohol consumption, statewide efforts have been made to ensure that motorists who drive under the influence are arrested and taken off the road.


Laguna Beach’s Police Department is able to put extra officers on the front lines to defend against drunk driving through funding from AVOID 26, a grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety. The grant allows counties to add overtime hours, reassign officers and conduct public awareness campaigns during the increased enforcement periods.


This Dec. 30 and 31 will mark the department’s saturation days, where extra officers scour the city’s two major arteries looking for signs of intoxication behind the wheel. This contrasts with the labor-intensive tactic of staffing a DUI checkpoint, which requires more people than normally fill a shift, said Sgt. Louise Callus. “Saturation is just adding more patrol people to do the exact same thing.”


However, residents who wish to toast the New Year this weekend have a secret weapon they may wield against irresponsibility, as long as they acted in advance. Taxi Vouchers, valid Monday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., are available for residents for taxi rides between any two points within the city as long as one of the points is in the downtown area or along Coast Highway from Viejo Street to Seventh Avenue. For up to four passengers, a Taxi Voucher will buy a safe ride home for you and your friends for $3 per one-way ride. Residents may purchase taxi vouchers by mail or in person at the Community Services Department located at 515 Forest Avenue, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Whatever New Year’s Eve events you attend, law enforcement authorities urge revelers to plan a safe way home before the festivities begin, designate a sober driver, use a taxi or call a sober friend if impaired. They also urge calls to 9-1-1 if a drunk driver is observed on the road. If someone is about to drive while impaired, take their keys and make other arrangements for them to go home safely, police urge.



Participating Taxi Voucher Companies:


Cabco Yellow Taxi:  800-935-5692


Coastal Taxi: 949-378-8284


Laguna Silvercab: 949-378-8284


Laguna Taxi: 949-378-8284


O.C. Yellow Cab: 949-830-9900


White & Yellow Cab:  800-469-8294



Indy intern Haley Toler is a Cal State Fullerton student.

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