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Safe Cab offers free rides to New Year's Eve revelers

WORTHINGTON -- With New Year's Eve falling on a Saturday night this year, law enforcement officers are already anticipating it will be a busy night for the Safe Cab.

The service for late night revelers provides free rides home between 10 p.m. Saturday and 2 a.m. Sunday in hopes of keeping the city streets safe.

Saturday night marks the 12th year the Nobles County Sheriff's Office and Worthington Police Department are partnering to provide the Safe Cab on New Year's Eve.

"Cab rides are free by simply calling the cab company at 372-4300," said Nobles County Chief Deputy Chris Heinrichs. "(Rides) aren't just from the bars. If you're at a house party and don't feel you should drive home, you can call the cabs as well."

The rides are provided free of charge thanks to (numerous) sponsorships from local businesses, added Worthington Police Captain Chris Dybevick. The police and sheriff's departments provide the drivers.

"The drivers are licensed (off-duty) law enforcement officers," Dybevick said. "They're not there working in an official capacity -- they're just there to drive and get people home safe. We're not looking for people drunk -- we're just making sure people are getting home safe."

The Safe Cab is typically offered about three times per year, with King Turkey Day festivities leading to the highest number of requests for free rides.

"Last Turkey Day, we gave about 153 Safe Cab rides," Heinrichs said. "I think the very first year we did New Year's Eve, it was only 26 (rides) -- they were scared because the cops were driving. Now it's gotten huge."

Despite the increased usage of the Safe Cab, Dybevick said there are still some people who choose to drink and drive -- and get caught.

"With this program, there's absolutely no reason for people to get arrested for a DWI on New Year's Eve," Dybevick said. "And yet, every single year, we arrest people for DWI on New Year's Eve."

Heinrichs said they typically have a couple of DWI arrests on the holiday weekend.

"Turkey Day is the same way," he added. "We always have a lot of rides and we always arrest one or two for DWIs."

Julie Buntjer
Julie Buntjer joined the Daily Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington and graduate of Worthington High School, then-Worthington Community College and South Dakota State University, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. At the Daily Globe, Julie covers the agricultural beat, as well as Nobles County government, watersheds, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework (cross-stitch and hardanger embroidery), reading, travel, fishing and spending time with family. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at
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