Davidson Co. Sheriff Ends Sober Ride Program

Posted at 6:23 PM, Nov 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-21 19:23:38-05

After decades of free rides on New Years Eve, the Davidson County Sheriff's Office is calling it quits on their Sober Ride Program. 

The ball drops and the drinks are flowing as tens of thousands of people ring in the new year in Nashville, but then it's time to go home.

For 35 years, volunteers from the Davidson County Sheriff's office provided the Sober Ride program for folks to get a free, safe ride.

"About 15 years ago we hit a mark of 2,000 people on one night that would have been behind the wheel that we took off the street and got them home safe," said Sheriff Daron Hall.

As the downtown New Year's Eve party grew and rideshare options became available, that number dropped to just 200 in 2017. 

"The complications of it, meaning we're spending a lot of time waiting and getting people that we can't get many home," said Hall. 

Although the program saw great success with only one death on the road New Year's Eve night the entire time, Wednesday Hall announced it was time for Sober Ride to end. 
Even without it, bars downtown like Pancho and Lefty's Cantina say they're committed to getting everyone home safely.
They watch for signs of over-intoxication and help people call taxis and rideshares. 

"You want to make sure they can go out and have another enjoyable day and it doesn't end on that one horrible night that you couldn't have helped them out," said Pancho and Lefty's bartender Jordan Wheaton. 

Wheaton does caution people to be prepared for elevated prices and wait times after the celebrations.

"Downtown is so packed," said Wheaton. "If you try to leave right after the ball drop like a lot of people do, you'll wait 20-30 minutes for a ride."

Lyft released the following statement:

"Lyft is committed to smart rides for Nashville residents and visitors alike throughout the holiday season. Lyft is currently partnering with Heineken to provide free rides (up to $10) to Lyft riders who use the code HEINEKEN2018 in the Lyft app today through Saturday. We have more partnerships on the horizon to offer free and discounted rides all the way through New Year’s Day."

The sheriff's office says they're now focusing all of their volunteer efforts on the Last Minute Toy Store. 

They began their partnership last year and they're encouraging their Sober Ride volunteers to get involved.
In 2017, more than 5,400 kids received Christmas presents they wouldn't have gotten if it weren't for the free store.

If you'd like to donate or volunteer, visit the Last Minute Toy Store website.