New Jersey Township Offers Free Rides in Effort to Reduce DWI

Police departments and state and local governments around the country frequently roll out new plans for reducing the incidence of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in their jurisdictions. Usually, these plans involve extra police patrols, DWI checkpoints, or increased penalties for certain acts associated with DWI. Whether measures like this are effective is a matter of intense debate. Evesham Township, New Jersey is taking a different approach. It began a program in September 2015 that offers rides home to people who, after a night out, are not able to drive themselves. Programs like this could be beneficial in New Jersey, where state DWI law prohibits not only operating a vehicle while intoxicated but also, in some cases, permitting an intoxicated person to drive.metal-1314941

Evesham Township’s program began in September as a 30-day pilot program using shuttles and a local designated driver service. In October, the township announced that it was extending the program through the holidays and that it was doing so through a partnership with the ride-sharing company Uber and a designated driver service called BeMyDD. This is reportedly the first program of its kind in the country.

Uber, which is based in San Francisco, connects users with drivers through a mobile app. Its service is reportedly available in at least 300 cities around the world, including many parts of New Jersey. BeMyDD began in Cleveland several years ago and has spread to other U.S. cities. It allows people to essentially hire a driver at an hourly rate to take them to bars, restaurants, and other locations.

The program in Evesham Township offers free rides home to people at designated bars and restaurants, seven days a week, between 9:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. The program is funded in part by the township and partly by private donors. According to the township’s mayor, DWI arrests dropped from an average of 23 per month during the first eight months of 2015 to only eight in September. The program is currently scheduled to continue until January 2, 2016. These companies and others are offering promotional programs with free rides in cities around the country.

Programs like this could prove beneficial for people in New Jersey. This state’s DWI statute does not limit its reach to drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or various drugs. It also applies to someone who “permits another person who is under the influence of intoxicating liquor…to operate a motor vehicle owned by him or in his custody or control.” This essentially means that allowing an intoxicated person to drive your car could expose you to liability for DWI, just as though you were driving the car while intoxicated yourself.

The New Jersey Supreme Court applied a three-part test to this question in 2012’s State v. Stas. A defendant is guilty of DWI if they (1) knew, or should have known, that the person was too intoxicated to drive; (2) were the owner, or had lawful possession, of the vehicle; and (3) willingly allowed the person to drive the vehicle. Programs like the one in Evesham Township allow people to avoid the decision about who is in the best shape to drive.

A charge of alleged DWI in New Jersey requires a carefully planned and prepared defense. An experienced and skilled DWI defense attorney can help you understand your rights and guide you through the court process. We have dedicated 100% of our practice at Levow DWI Law to the defense of New Jersey DWI cases. To schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case, contact us today online or at (877) 975-3399.

More Blog Posts:

Five Factors Courts May Consider in Determining Whether a Driver Was Impaired in a New Jersey DWI Case, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, September 17, 2015

Holiday DWI Stories Illustrate Important Principles of New Jersey DWI Law, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, January 13, 2015

New Jersey’s DWI Statute Allows Prosecutors to Charge Passengers with DWI for “Permitting” Intoxicated Person to Drive, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, July 24, 2014

Photo credit: Mark Warner [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr.