Make it home safe this holiday season

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HELENA — The Helena Police Department says that drunk driving usually increases around the holidays. When making your way home this holiday season, make sure you're being safe.

“Company Christmas parties, there’s people celebrating various things going on around town. There’s always alcohol, it’s always available, and it just seems to increase the people willing to take a chance,” said Helena Police Department Lt., Jayson Zander.

To keep roads safe, the HPD and other law enforcement agencies increase patrols during these times.

“For Helena Police Department we actually have a dedicated DUI officer that is out patrolling five nights a week for DUI’s,” Zander said.

They also encourage residents to find a safer way home if they are impaired.

“When you’re impaired you clearly are not safe to operate a vehicle. You not only put yourself in danger but everybody else on the road,” said Zander.

In 2017, the Tri-County Hospitality Association launched its Home Free program. The program allows bartenders to call someone a free ride home if they have been drinking.

Any taverns that are part of the association, have the option of opting into the Home Free program.

“It’s just nice to have that ability to say, you know sir you’ve had too much to drink I’m going to give you ride home, and 90% of the patrons appreciate that’s. And we get lots of thank yous,” said Bruce McCullough, Miller's Crossing Owner, and President of the Tri-County Hospitality Association.

Each tavern pays $25 a month to supply their patrons with unlimited safe and free rides home.

Currently, 27 taverns participate and they have supplied about 10,000 rides to their patrons.

“That’s a lot of lives saved and a lot of drunk drivers off the road,” McCullough said.

All 27 are encouraged to have signage up encouraging people to use the program.