‘Tipsy Taxi’ can aid drivers next weekend

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Don’t drink and drive; people say it all the time. But, Hillaire Long may have come up with a solution to keep people from doing just that during the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race weekend next week.

&uot;Drunk driving is a problem in this area,&uot; Long said. &uot;And this is just one more way to address it.&uot;

Long’s plan is to provide a way home Oct. 17 and 18 for people that are too intoxicated to drive themselves home.

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&uot;Two or three beers does impair your driving,&uot; Natchez Police Chief Mike Mullins said.

The Tipsy Taxi will take anyone within the Natchez and Vidalia city limits home for free from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. aboard a 30-passenger bus.

Local restaurants and bars have nuclear orange tickets to hand out to patrons to remind them they have a safe way home during that weekend, if they are unable to drive themselves or do not have a designated driver.

The tickets serve as a reminder and a ticket to get on the bus.

&uot;If you drink, let us drive,&uot; the card reads.

If someone does not have a card, they can still ride the Tipsy Taxi but must pay $1. That $1 will go toward a tip for the bus drivers. The bus will be parked in a central location for the festival, in front of the Corner Bar at Canal and State streets.

The reason the service can be offered free of charge is that Long raised the money to pay for the two shuttle buses from local businesses, just the way she raised money to pay for her guardian angel stickers.

&uot;People are a lot more likely to utilize it if it’s free,&uot; Long said about wanting sponsorships from businesses so she could offer this service free-of-charge. &uot;It is a fun alternative to drinking and driving.

&uot;I think people will have a better time if they know they’ll be safe.&uot;

If the bus is successful, hopefully it will catch on and they can provide the service next year as well.

&uot;I would hope it would catch on,&uot; said Tommy Geoghegan, owner of the Corner Bar and supporter of the Tipsy Taxi, said. It is a win-win situation for patrons and business owners.

&uot;It will bring more people out because they don’t have to worry about drinking and driving,&uot; Geoghegan said.

And, it gives business owners a peace of mind that people will get home safely.

So far 29 businesses in the Miss-Lou have supported Long with donations.

&uot;I think it’s a good idea just to have it available,&uot; Pat McDonough, owner of McDonough’s in Vidalia, said.