Arguing with friends over who will be the designated driver on New Year's Eve? Well, if you live in the City of Palm Beach, here's your backup plan. Police will drive you home without arresting you -- that is, unless you act like an idiot when they arrive to pick you up. So, if you can keep your composure, you can cop a ride straight home for free without arrest or citation -- all you have to do is call the PBPD's nonemergency number, 561-838-5454. Another bonus: You'll be riding in a police cruiser! What a way to kick off 2011!
This service has been around "for as long as the police department has existed," according to a representative of the Palm Beach Police Department, and it is available every day, although the department emphasizes its availability around the holidays to keep people safe when drunk driving is most prevalent. If you live outside of Palm Beach but happen to find yourself drunk within its confines, well, you're not completely out of luck. The police will help you call a cab or a sober family member or friend, assuming you have one.
The free ride policy does not extend to Palm Beach County, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office representative. The Sheriff's Office recommends using Tow to Go, a program by AAA and Budweiser, that gives drunk would-be drivers and their cars a safe ride home on holidays when people tend to drink heavily (schedule here). Tow to Go service is available at 1-800-AAA-HELP, a number worth programming into your phone or writing on your hand or on your forehead, wherever it will be unavoidably obvious when you need it most. That service is available throughout the country, even in Broward County, where police "do not offer free rides for those who overindulge," according to a Broward Sheriff's Office spokesperson.
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The Palm Beach Police Department offers a few other under-the-radar services. Police will keep an eye on your house while you are on vacation if you register with the department (Broward Sheriff's Office offers a similar program). And if you are really nervous about break-ins, a Palm Beach Police Department crime prevention specialist will give your home a once-over to evaluate its security strengths and weaknesses -- that's right, for free. Here's to a happy, healthy new year, free of all bad things that result from our own stupidity!