If you're going to be out celebrating New Year's Eve in the City of Yuma, and realize you have had too much to drink, you can get a free ride home.
For the third year, Grace Bible Fellowship will once again have volunteers available to give tipsy residents free rides homes. To get a free ride, call the church at 783-0133. Drivers will be available from 9 p.m. Monday until 3 a.m. Tuesday.
“It's about taking care of the community. We aren't giving sermons,” said church member Art Gradillas. “We cherish the fact that we can be helpful. We are an avenue for getting home safely.”
Gradillas said the main goal of the free rides is to curb drunk driving on a day that has become synonymous with partying and drinking. As a retired law enforcement officer, Gradillas has seen the bad things associated with the holiday.
Stiffer DUI laws, in which fines are extremely expensive, spending time in jail and the risk of killing or injuring yourself or someone else should be more than reason enough for someone who has partied a bit too much to call for a free ride, Gradillas said.
He explained that the church hopes the free rides are a service for people who need it, instead of those who plan to go out and drink heavily and then call for a ride. He added they will give anyone a ride home though.
“We aren't going to be inconvenienced by someone asking us for a ride,” Gradillas said. “It is what we here for.”
There are some rules about the free rides, though. Gradillas said the volunteer drivers will come to the establishment to pick you up and only drive you back to your residence. They won't take you to another bar or club.
Gradillas said the church will have five vehicles available this year, all of which are SUVs and vans, and therefor capable of carrying more than one passenger at a time.
Although the church has only been giving the free rides for a short time, Gradillas said they have seen an increase in the number of people calling for rides each year. He said they first year they had about 18 to 20 calls and about 40 last year.
“We have had people who were forgotten at a party and didn't have any money for a cab ride home,” Gradillas said.
According to Yuma police, a significant number of fatal accidents in Arizona involve impaired drivers and holiday weekends tend to result in increased numbers of impaired motorists on roadways across the nation.