December 31st is the busiest night of the year for Wrangell’s Northern Lights Cab Company, mainly because the rides are free. For the past 30-years, local retailers have band together to pay for cab rides on New Year’s Eve. Local grocery store owner Bob Robbins says this is a way for the liquor distributors and retailers to give back to the community while helping cut down on the number of people out drinking and driving.

“It’s just a no brainer,” he says “Those of us who sell alcohol are just helping people drink responsibly. It’s a good thing we have going on, all of our local retailers participate as well as the distributors from out of town who we buy our alcohol from.”

Joe Hommel is the owner of Northern Lights Cabs and will be out offering rides New Year’s Eve. Hommel says the wait for a cab can be long, but encourages people to take advantage of the free service.

“Be patient and be watching for the cabs, and be ready to get in the cab. And we can only do so much, so designated drivers are always appreciated,” he says.

The Wrangell Police Department estimates the cost of a person’s first DUI to be about $6,000, this includes jail time, fines, court fees, and time off work. Hommel says his usual cab services only cost $6 which he says is relatively cheap considering the alternative.

“A free cab ride sure beats what you would pay for a DUI. A DUI goes on your record and stays there for a long time. And everyone knows someone who’s gotten one and knows how much it costs,” he says.

Wrangell Police Chief Doug McCloskey says since the free cab service started, there’s been very few DUI’s given out on New Year’s Eve, something he says he happy to see. The Wrangell Police Department plan to have extra patrols out over the holiday weekend, to ensure people are safe while out celebrating.

All cab rides are free to adult’s 21-years-old and over, starting at 5 p.m. New Year’s Eve to 5 a.m. New Year’s Day. For a ride contact Northern Lights Cabs at 907-874-4646.

Sponsoring the free cab service is Wrangell’s Northern Lights Cab Company, the Elks Club, Stikine Inn and Restaurant, Marine bar, Totem bar, and Rayme’s bar, as well as Bobs IGA, City Market, K & L Distributors, Odom Company and Specialty Imports.
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