Hundreds of residents in the D.C. area took advantage of this year's SoberRide service for St. Patrick's Day, officials said, but ridership was down considerably from 2012.
There were 212 free cab rides provided by the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program from 4 p.m. Sunday through 4 a.m. Monday. Last year, 606 people took SoberRides during the holiday period, and from 2008 to 2012, an average of 460 riders used the St. Patrick's Day service.
WRAP's SoberRide program allows residents who are 21 and older to receive cab rides home worth up to $30 at no cost. The service is offered four times a year: St. Patrick's Day, July 4th, Halloween and during the Christmas/New Year's season.
WRAP president Kurt Erickson suggested that the decrease in ridership was because this year, St. Patrick's Day fell on a cold and drizzly Sunday when people had to return to work the next day. Last year, St. Patrick's Day fell on a warm and sunny Saturday.
Erickson told The Washington Examiner that the call center for the SoberRides was much busier in the earlier part of the night, with more than 100 of the rides dispatched before 10 p.m. Most calls typically come during the later part of the night when the holiday is on a Saturday, and the later period also tend to be busier on Halloween and New Year's.
Still, the service removed many people from the road who might have otherwise driven drunk.
"For SoberRide's hours of operation this St. Patrick's Day, this translates into the removal of a would-be drunk driver from Greater Washington's roadways every three-and-a-half minutes," Erickson said in a statement.