Golden

Golden police launch sober-driving initiative

Police, Metro Taxi partner to bring awareness to dangers of drinking and driving

Posted 10/17/16

In Golden, being a hero can be as easy as avoiding an alcoholic beverage before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.

It’s called Project Sober Hero, a new initiative by the Golden Police Department. Police Sgt. Matthew Porter said its purpose …

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Golden

Golden police launch sober-driving initiative

Police, Metro Taxi partner to bring awareness to dangers of drinking and driving

Posted

In Golden, being a hero can be as easy as avoiding an alcoholic beverage before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.

It’s called Project Sober Hero, a new initiative by the Golden Police Department. Police Sgt. Matthew Porter said its purpose is to educate the public on the dangers of drinking and driving, with a more positive approach that he hopes will reduce intoxicated driving and traffic accidents.

“We want to positively reinforce the choice to not drink and drive,” said Golden Police Officer Jacob Lizakowski. “We’re rewarding those who are designated drivers and those who make the right decision not to drink and drive.”

Rewards come in the form of a voucher given out by police officers. The sober driver then takes his or her voucher to the Golden Police Department, 911 10th St., in exchange for a $5 gift card, redeemable at a local business.

The initiative helps get the message out to the community, Lizakowski said, while supporting local businesses.

Police could stop a driver for not making a complete stop at a stop sign, and if the officer finds out the driver is sober and providing a ride to someone who had been drinking alcohol, the designated driver is eligible for a voucher. Or, another example, Lizakowski said, is if officers are on foot patrol downtown and are informed of somebody calling a cab or similar service to get a ride home rather than driving themselves.

“The people we’ve given them to have been thrilled with the program,” Lizakowski said.

How the program works

As of Oct. 11, officers had distributed 22 vouchers, Porter said.

But the voucher program, which started in April, are only the first phase of Project Sober Hero.

The second phase, a partnership with Metro Taxi, began Oct. 7.

“What we do is provide safe drivers for people to get from point A to point B,” said Sean McBride, operations manager for Metro Taxi. “Getting a DUI is a life-changing event — and not in a good way.”

The taxi service is happy to partner with the Golden Police Department, McBride said, and added Metro Taxi also plans to work with other jurisdictions across the metro area in the future.

The third phase — a coaster campaign — is still in the works, Lizakowski said, but is expected to launch within the next month or so. Local establishments will give out coasters with information reminding folks not to drink and drive and how to get a cab.

The partnership with Metro Taxi includes two main details — a taxi-cop car to serve as a visual reminder of the dangers of drinking and driving, and the addition of more taxi drivers based in Golden.

Metro Taxi donated a retired vehicle, to become the taxi-cop car — complete with Golden Police Department decals and lights —delivered to the police department on Oct. 5.

“It’s meant to be a giant billboard so people can get that visual,” Porter said, of the driving advertisement for the sober drinking campaign.

The taxi company also will be increasing its local fleet of five to 10 drivers that service Golden weekly, McBride said. “Drivers are excited to develop a rapport with the local people here in Golden.”

So far, Porter said, Project Sober Hero has seen success.

It’s a great way to bring awareness to people who live here and people who visit the community, agreed Mick McManus, general manager of the Buffalo Rose bar and grill in downtown Golden. The manager said it puts his employees at ease knowing they are able to call Metro Taxi to get customers taken care of and home safely.

On Oct. 7, he saw a group of people leaving the Buffalo Rose call a cab rather than drive home after drinking at the bar.

“It’s really rewarding to see first-hand that it’s working,” Porter said.

“No one likes getting tickets,” Lizakowski said. But the vouchers “put a smile on their face when their rewarded.”

The campaign tries to make the point that not only is getting a DUI costly, McBride said, but driving while intoxicated puts people’s lives in danger.

“At the end of the day,” McBride said, “it’s not worth it when you could just take a $10 cab ride home instead.”

Golden, Project Sober Hero, he Golden Police Department

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