Drunken driving campaign targets downtown Sacramento

12/20/2012 12:00 AM

07/10/2013 10:14 AM

Starting tonight in Sacramento and three other California cities, holiday revelers will see an odd, potentially sobering vehicle parked in front of popular bars and nightspots.

The vehicle's front half will look like a blue and white police car. "This ride costs up to $10,000," lettering on the front door reads, referencing the potential long-term costs of a drunken driving citation. The back half, painted orange and black, looks like a taxi. "This ride costs $40," its door reads.

The vehicles are the latest tool in a state and national campaign to encourage people in their 20s and 30s to think twice before drinking and driving.

Sponsored by the state Office of Traffic Safety, the cars will be stationed this weekend and next at a half-dozen downtown and midtown spots: Mix Club, Dive Bar, the Shady Lady, Harlow's, O'Malleys and Head Hunters.

They will be accompanied by a team of young marketing professionals who will chat on the sidewalk with bar-goers about having a designated driver or calling a taxi.

Downtown Sacramento was chosen, along with locations in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, because this city has one of the highest drunken-driving crash rates in the state. There were 774 people killed in California last year in alcohol-related crashes. Alcohol-related crash and death rates are highest among drivers in their 20s.

"We're really trying to engage the young bar crowd," said state traffic safety office spokesman Chris Cochran. "To get the point across that DUI is dangerous and illegal, and they should be figuring out how to get a safe ride home."

The trained safety team will help inebriated people call taxis, but will not engage in police enforcement, Cochran said. The effort is part of a larger two-year-old "RUOK?" campaign, funded by federal transportation safety grants.

State officials have distributed 750,000 coasters and restroom mirror stickers to bars statewide. The coasters have bizarre questions printed on one side, such as, "Can you insure against alien abduction?" and a response on the other: "That is just as ridiculous as asking your drunk friend: RUOK to drive?"

The statewide holiday DUI program will include an increased law enforcement focus on pulling over drunken drivers, including sobriety checkpoints.

Editor's Choice Videos

Join the Discussion

Merced Sun-Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service