Bartenders around Jefferson City said Sunday they are urging people planning to go out on New Year's Eve to come up with a plan for getting home safely.
J. Pfenny's bartender Khala Fowler said this year her establishment will be open to anyone who wants to come by. Last year, Pfenny's sold tickets for private parties. This year, they're expecting many people to drop in for a few drinks.
"It's going to be crazy and packed because a lot of people who don't normally get out come to the bar on New Year's Eve," Fowler said.
Fowler said like many other bars, Pfenny's is encouraging people to come up with alternatives for getting home if they've had too much to drink.
"They could call a cab, call friends, call their mom, anyone really," Fowler said. "Just don't drive drunk."
Spectators bartender Kendra Heisinger said it is extra important to her that patrons are safe, especially on New Year's Eve.
"Sometimes, people just go out onto the street after they've had too much to drink. They think they're ready to take off, when in fact they're in no condition to drive," Heisinger said. "That's why if someone has no other way to get home, we encourage them to use the 'sober driver' program."
The program, which is sponsored by the Jefferson City Police Department and the Fechtel Beverage Company, allows bars and restaurants to hand out vouchers worth a $10 taxicab ride home. Many bars around the city have the orange cards, which they keep for emergencies. Heisinger said aside from the cards, the low price of a taxi ride home is another advantage bargoers have. According to Jefferson City Taxi, the average price of a cab fare within city limits is $6.70. Jefferson City Police Lt. David Williams said that's far less than the price of a DWI.
"Don't drink and drive," Williams said. "Don't get into a situation where you're not familiar with your environment."
Williams also said that people sometimes become impaired by accident. "Sometimes there's a situation where you didn't intentionally drink what you did. There could be a situation where you've taken medication and it interacts badly with something you thought you could drink."
"Any impaired driver that is on the road is a concern for us," Williams said.
Williams said his department plans to conduct saturation patrols New Year's Eve, in order to protect motorists from impaired drivers but also to protect people who are impaired from themselves. He said it is extremely easy to take advantage of the ample opportunities drinking establishments offer to get home safely without getting behind the wheel.