2019 ends with zero drunk driving-related deaths in Brown County

Green Bay Area Regional News

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — Now that it’s officially 2020, the Brown County Tavern League has a reason to celebrate.

“For 2019 we had zero alcohol-related [driving] fatalities in our county for the first time ever,” Robert Heinritz, Vice President of the Brown County Tavern League said. “It’s a record.”

OWI arrests were also down 26-percent for the year.

“We’d really like to see that move forward,” Heinritz said, “this trend continued into 2020 as well.”

Bars affiliated with the Tavern League offer a SafeRide Program.

“If they’re out at an establishment and they’ve had a few too many to drink and they don’t feel safe to drive home, or we as bar owners and servers feel they shouldn’t be driving, we can offer them a free SafeRide,” Heinritz explained.

The Tavern League works with Lyft to call rides in a timely manner, free of charge to the patrons in need of safe transportation.

Ron Smet has been a part-time Lyft driver in the Green Bay area for a couple of years, and he says he’s picked up passengers through the SafeRide program.

“There’s no reason you should get a drunk driver nowadays,” Smet told Local 5. “There’s plenty of drivers around here.”

The program is growing: in 2017 1,129 SafeRides were taken. That number nearly quadrupled in 2019 to 4,062.

“I’ve had so many people for the first time ask me how it works,” Heinritz said. “The key to the SafeRide program is awareness and availability.”

Divers like Smet are available to continue to make roadways safer.

“Why would you even think about taking a chance of drinking and driving?” he said. “It’s just kind of senseless, you know, to drink and drive when you have these kinds of services.”

To learn more about SafeRide, click here.

For a full list of bars affiliated with the Brown County Tavern League, click here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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