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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 9:04 a.m., Thursday, December 28, 2006

Hilo bars, nightclubs work to curb drunk driving

Advertiser Staff

Hilo drinking establishments will be distributing coupons for free taxi rides so customers don't drink and drive, especially on New Year's Eve.

The Hawaii County Prosecutor's office has purchased 50 booklets of the coupons, which the Department of Liquor Control will pass out to bars and nightclubs.

Despite the giveaway program, individuals who plan to drink at a bar over the holiday weekend should not count on getting a free coupon. They should make other arrangements in case the bar they plan to visit runs out of coupons.

"Shared ride" taxi coupons are available for purchase all year long at the Mass Transit Agency, 630 E. Lanikaula St., Hilo or at the Downtown Improvement Association, 329 Kamehameha Ave., Hilo.

The coupons are subsidized by the county, allowing the taxi companies to receive full payment for providing cab rides while giving the customer a reduced rate. The most economical package is a booklet of 15 coupons for $30.

One coupon is good for four miles of travel and two coupons are good for nine miles of travel, provided the travel is within urban Hilo. Any distance beyond that covered by the coupons must be paid for in cash.

Five taxi companies participate in the program. They are Ace One Taxi, Ali'i Taxi, Bay City Taxi, Marhysa Taxi and Percy's Taxi.

For more information on purchasing discount taxi coupons, call the Mass Transit Agency at 961-8744.

The free coupon distribution evolved from strategies developed by the Impaired Driving Task Force, a coalition of government agencies, community organizations and victim support groups dedicated to helping reduce injuries and fatalities on Big Island highways.