Deputies offer rides for drunken drivers

Published 12:08 am Saturday, December 26, 2015

LAPLACE — In an effort to get drunk drivers off the road during this holiday season, the St. John the Baptist Sheriff’s Office is offering a “safe and sober” ride home program.

The program began Thursday and continues until 1 p.m. on New Year’s Day.

According to authorities, this program is only for St. John residents.

Lt. Troy Cassioppi said this isn’t the first time the Sheriff’s Office has done something like this, but it has been a few years since the last time a program like this was in action.

Cassioppi said he believes law enforcement agencies on the Northshore have a similar program.

“The goal is to reduce the number of fatal crashes or injury crashes due to drunk drivers,” Cassioppi said. “Our goal is to have zero vehicle crashes this holiday season. Around the holidays, around Christmas and New Year’s specify, people tend to go to parties where there are alcoholic beverages. We just want people to make the right decisions to have a designated driver or call in for our program. We don’t want intoxicated drivers on the road during the holidays.”

According to Cassioppi, those residents who do not have a designated driver and don’t want to get behind the wheel of their car while intoxicated can call the Sheriff’s Office and 985-652-6338.

“People can call and speak to one of our dispatchers and explain that they have had too much to drink and don’t have a designated driver and there is no one else to bring them home,” Cassioppi said. “Then, we’ll dispatch a patrol car. We will give them a ride home, no questions asked. This is a free service courtesy of the Sheriff Mike Tregre and the Sheriff’s Office.”

As for the matter of how many intoxicated people need a ride home at once, Cassioppi said they will “play it by ear” as to whether or not multiple patrol cars are needed at one location.

“Whatever it takes to for us to save lives and not have intoxicated drivers on the road, we’ll do,” Cassioppi said. “We’ll accommodate people. If there is more than one person who needs a ride, we’ll do what we can to get them home safely.”

This safe ride program is not designed to shuttle intoxicated people from one party to the next, it is designed to return them safely to their residence.

This program, only running in St. John the Baptist Parish, will accommodate intoxicated residents on the East and West Banks.

Whether the Sheriff’s Office will have this program during other major holidays is unknown.

“We don’t want to commit on that,” Cassioppi said. “We’re just going to play it by ear and see how it goes during this holiday.”

Cassioppi said he hopes intoxicated people with no other way home make the right decision by taking advantage of the safe and sober ride home program.

“We want people to be responsible and not even put themselves in that position,” he said. “Have a plan to have a designated driver, but if you don’t, then take advantage of our program. People should definitely not get behind the wheel intoxicated because there are consequences, and a lot of time there are fatal consequences.”