St. Bernard S.O. kicks off Holiday Ride Home program - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

St. Bernard S.O. kicks off Holiday Ride Home program

Updated:

FOX 8 News received this press release from the St. Bernard Sheriff's Office Monday evening:

It was innovative when it was started 28 years ago and new St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Pohlmann isn't going to tamper with success.

For the 29th straight year the St. Bernard Sheriff's Office will be giving free rides home to any parish resident who has been drinking during the Christmas-New Year's holidays – no questions asked, Sheriff Pohlmann said. The program, which started at Thanksgiving, will run through Jan 2.

Just call (504) 271-2501 and a sheriff's deputy will pick you up and take you to your home in St. Bernard or, if you live out of the parish, you can be taken to a sheriff's sub-station where you can make arrangements to be picked up there.

"We are proud of the Holiday Ride Home program,'' Sheriff Pohlmann said. "And why not? It was innovative when it was started and it shows we don't want anyone injured by impaired drivers.''

Roughly 20 people a year take advantage of the offer, Sheriff Pohlmann said.

It's hard to determine the impact the ride home program has on the number of people who may drive drunk, the sheriff said. "But we do our best to let people know of the free service and remove the temptation to try to make it home on their own."

The Sheriff's Office will be working in conjunction with State Police to battle drunk-driving and checkpoints will be set up to specifically look for impaired drivers. "We patrol vigorously looking for anyone who is driving drunk or on drugs.''

"So it's really an easy choice to make for a St. Bernard resident who has been drinking during the holiday season," Sheriff James Pohlmann said.

"Either call the Sheriff's Office and take advantage of our free Holiday Ride Home program or risk going to jail for driving while intoxicated or otherwise impaired.''

"We don't want to arrest anyone but we sure don't want anyone injuring others or themselves, so we urge people to take the free ride home,'' Pohlmann said. "To do otherwise is not worth it.''

"We will take a resident home from wherever they are in the parish – at a party or a bar, etc., - but they must stay home and we will not take anyone to a separate party or another bar,'' Sheriff Pohlmann said.

Sheriff Jack A. Stephens, who retired effective June 30, started the ride home program in 1984 after he had just taken office after his first election. It was the first of its type in the New Orleans area.

Stephens has said it was an idea borne out of the need to do something to try to prevent further holiday accidents that had happened in the past directly because of people drinking and driving while celebrating.

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