Phil Brahm | Lindenlink Managing Editor
October 30, 2015; 2:35 p.m.
To keep drunk drivers off the roads in St. Charles county, a local attorney is offering free rides home this Halloween for adults heading out to celebrate.
Criminal Defense Attorney Bill Byrne noticed a repeated increase in DWI charges around holiday weekends and decided to provide safe rides home for those within his community.
“We see a lot of stuff in the news nowadays as far as people dying from DWI incidences and I deal with DWIs on a daily basis,” Byrne said. “I just think being able to go out on Halloween, especially with all the kids out and stuff like that, that it’s a good time to make sure everyone has a safe ride.”
Byrnes’ program is offering to pay the cost of a one-way ride to any safe location within St. Charles County, for any adult of legal drinking age. Fares will be reimbursed up to $30 and are limited to one per household. Rides also must be taken between Oct. 30 and Nov. 1 in order to qualify.
A receipt for the cab ride, photocopy of a valid driver license and a mailing address must be sent to Byrnes Law Firm by Nov. 8, in order to receive a reimbursement check.
“When someone gets a DWI, hopefully they make that one mistake and never get in trouble again, but the problem is, that one mistake can cost someone their life.” Byrnes said.
According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nationwide 43 percent of traffic related fatalities on Halloween night from 2009-2013, involved an impaired driver.
The NHTSA also found that the holiday is the third-deadliest day of the year for pedestrians, following Dec. 23 and New Year’s Day. The study states that in 2013, 26 percent of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween also involved a drunk driver.
St. Charles bar owner Marc Rousseau, who will be hosting a costume contest and a live band to celebrate Halloween at R.T Weiler’s on Main Street believes a program guaranteeing safe rides home would be beneficial.
“I think it would be huge for places to have programs like this,” Rousseau said. “I don’t think anything deters like a $3,000-$5,000 fine, but I certainly don’t think it would hurt, especially for those who aren’t being smart.”
While this is the debut of Byrne’s cab program, in his mind if it keeps one drunk driver off the roads in the community, it would serve its purpose.
“If we can get it so people aren’t getting in trouble, picking up charges, and I end up making my living a different way, I’m perfectly fine with that.” Byrnes said.