Free taxi services help keep students safe this spring break

Julia Hettiger, Staff Reporter

No DUI El Paso is a taxi service that will pick up and drop off inebriated patrons in the El Paso area free of charge.

Tyler Rouse founded the initiative on May 2012, the operations began on Oct. 5, of the same year. Fort Bliss soldiers and El Paso citizens volunteer their time to the organization to run the free taxi services. w

No DUI El Paso is a nonprofit organization aimed at stopping irresponsible drinking and driving.

Rouse  said he opened the company with the goal of reducing DUI rates at Ft. Bliss, but after careful consideration, he decided to expand the organization to civilians as well.

“As of right now, we cover 1,200 square miles, are available to over 1.1 million people and have transported over 8,900 individuals in El Paso so far,” Rouse said.

When a taxi is requested, two volunteers are sent out to the location, one who will drive the patron in the taxi and another who will transport the patron’s car.

All volunteers must go through extensive training in order to qualify as volunteers, both before they begin volunteering altogether and on the nights they volunteer.

“All volunteers are subject to background checks and vehicle inspections prior to driving,” Rouse said.

Volunteers go through extensive background checks in order to ensure they have not been under the influence of alcohol or medication that prevents machine handling and all are personally interviewed by Rouse.

Vehicles must pass all legal qualifications such as proper headlights, mirrors and others enforced by the law before volunteers are allowed to drive them to pick up patrons.

Rouse said the organization has been successful in both reducing DUI rates and alcohol-related accidents.

“We have been able to help lower the DUI rate by 32 percent,” Rouse said. “Alcohol traffic fatalities have also been decreased by 61 percent within the two and a half years of operation, so the organization has been really successful so far.”

Karen Contreras, senior accounting major, said she has never used the free taxi services, but if needed, she would take advantage of this service.

“You need to know how to handle yourself,” Contreras said. “That is why you need to limit yourself.”

Contreras also said there are many ways to stay safe during spring break among all the alcohol and temptations to drink and party.

According to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving the only time will help a person sober up, not coffee, cold showers or exercise. Statistics posted on the MADD website state that  drunk driving is highest among the ages 21 through 25.

Iara Barndao, sophomore electrical engineering major, said she did not know El Paso had a free taxi service, but would use it if she needs to.

“If you are too drunk to drive, you should call a cab to stay safe,” Barndao said.

No DUI El Paso services are available from 11 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. They also have staff assistance from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information or to request a taxi, call 877-366-7604.

Other taxi services in El Paso include United Independent Cab Co., EP Shuttle and Border Taxi Cab. To request taxis from United Independent Cab Co., call 590-8294, from EP Shuttle, call 407-9863 and Border Taxi Cab, call 533-4245.

Julia Hettiger may be reached at [email protected]