Revelers who toast the Declaration of Independence a few too many times in Baltimore bars this Fourth of July have a way home that doesn't involve staggering back to their vehicles.
The State Highway Administration, AAA Mid-Atlantic and Yellow Cab are offering free - up to a $50 value - taxi rides home to patrons of city drinking spots in an effort to curb drunken driving.
In some recent years, the Fourth has been the deadliest holiday of the year on the nation's roads, and alcohol has been a big contributor to the carnage. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 49 percent of the 177 U.S. traffic deaths on the July 4, 2004, weekend were alcohol-related.
This year's initiative - known as Tipsy?Taxi! - will begin Wednesday at 4 p.m. and continue through 4 a.m. the following morning. Bar or restaurant customers who want to enjoy a safe ride home - and to avoid the indignity of a roadside sobriety test - are encouraged to call 877- 963-TAXI to receive a ride home from Yellow Cab.
The rides are free to any location in the Baltimore metropolitan area up to a fare of $50. After that, the rider is expected to pay the balance. The program is restricted to those over age 21.
Organizers of the effort said 168 people took advantage of the free ride program last July 4. The program was also offered on St. Patrick's Day and is expected to be repeated on Labor Day weekend.
The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, Bond Distributors, the Fells Point Development Corp. and Landmark Parking will help to spread information about the program to bars in the city.