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March 16, 2010

Tipsy? Taxi! offers St. Patrick's Day rides

On the face of it the Tipsy? Taxi! program seems a wonderful service. On popular holidays, when the booze tends to flow freely, folks who have had a little too much to drink can call a taxi and get a free ride home without having to worry about field sobriety tests, blood-alcohol levels or any of the other depressing details surrounding a drunk driving arrest.

The program is swinging back into action this week for St. Patrick's Day -- co-sponsored, as before, by AAA Mid-Atlantic, the State Highway Administration and Yellow Cab.

But after past postings on this blog to alert people to the availability of the service, Gettting There has received complaints from potential riders who say they've had difficulty getting through on its telephone line. This, of course, is a serious matter for anyone who was counting on Tipsy? Taxi! being there in the event of overindulgence.

So with no guarantees of the reliability of the service, here are the particulars: The service will be available between 4 p.m. Wednesday and 4 a.m. Thursday to people who have been drinking at a Baltimore city restaurant or bar. Rides are free up to $50, though generous tips from  mellow riders are encouraged. Riders must pay any balance over $50.

The number to call for a ride is 1-877-963-TAXI, or 877-963-8294.



Certainly, St. Patrick's Day is a worthy date for the service. According to AAA, there were 134 U.S. traffic deaths on that day in 2008 -- significantly above the daily average for  that year. According to the federal  government, at least 37 percent of the  drivers and motorcyclists killed on that day were legally drunk.

The greatest value of this program may not be the relatively paltry number of rides it provides -- 120 last year -- but  in its promotion of the idea of taking a cab home from a night of revelry. Even when the rider pays, the cost of a cab ride is an excellent investment when compared with the thousands of dollars and far-reaching consequences of  a DUI arrest.

The best strategy if you're going to an establishment where you suspect -- or know -- you'll be drinking heavily is to leave your car home and find another way there. That way, you  won't have the option of fooling yourself into thinking you're OK to drive a few hours later when your judgment leaves something to be desired.

Use Tipsy? Taxi! by all means, but keep a stash of taxi fare on hand just in case.

Readers are encouraged to provide feedback about Tipsy? Taxi! and any other services that promise safe rides home for those who have been drinking.


Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:59 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: On the roads



I appreciate your help in making the public aware of this valuable service. Even in light of some occasional hiccups with this service, the bottom line is that AAA and SHA have received overwhelming positive feedback from patrons and bar owners. We invite feedback and we're always trying to enhance this important program.

We recognize that inevitably patrons will need to be patient and persistent. We live in a society of instant gratification and having to call again and wait may be necessary; busy lines means it is a service that is being used. Bottom line, the wait far outweighs the potential disaster on the flip side of driving drunk, getting arrested or hurting someone.

I'd also like to make your readers aware of the vast alternatives to driving drunk that are available here in Maryland. They not only include Tipsy?Taxi! in Baltimore, but also SoberRide in the DC Metro area. Additional ride services are available on the resources page of Thanks again for your continued support of our programs.

Thank you, as always, Mike for helping us spread the word about Tipsy?Taxi! We agree that Tipsy?Taxi! is a wonderful service, which has provided more than 1,700 free cab rides to would-be drunk drivers since 2006. AAA Mid-Atlantic and our partners the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) and Yellow Cab are very proud of the success of this program.

Since the program’s inception on the 4th of July in 2006, we have expanded this service to include New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day, Labor Day and Halloween. While we have heard an occasional complaint regarding wait times, by and large, we receive comments and compliments from patrons who have used the service repeatedly and tell us how important the service is and how appreciative they are that it is offered.

Clearly, some holidays are busier than others and quite frankly St. Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Eve are among the busiest, particularly when we have good weather, which is predicted for tomorrow. The demand for taxi cabs in general is particularly high on these holidays, and the demand for a FREE cab is even greater. If you call and the phone lines are busy, please call back. The average hold time is usually 20 seconds, but during peak times the wait could be longer. While an average wait time for a taxi cab is usually approximately 15 minutes, we know that demand increases greatly when the bars are closing and wait times for a cab at the end of the night may be as long as 45 minutes.

That said, we want to remind everyone that because this is a free service you can imagine how busy Yellow Cab is. We do not, however want people to be discouraged from using the service, but want them to be mindful that longer wait times should be expected if they wait until the bars are closing and they should be patient. We encourage impatient patrons to consider cutting their partying short so that they may obtain a cab earlier in the evening with less wait time or to designate a sober driver in their party before they even step out of their homes for the festivities.

Thank you again for using Tipsy?Taxi! and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Ragina C. Averella
Public and Government Affairs Manager
AAA Mid-Atlantic

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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.

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