Not a single DUI was issued in Laramie on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, and that could be due, in part, to local volunteers, a Laramie Police Department spokesperson said.
“I think we all realize there’s numerous reasons for the downward trend (of DUIs issued on New Years Eve),” LPD Lt. Gwen Smith said. “The don’t-drink-and-drive message is pushed out consistently by several agencies, and another big factor is the towing company and taxi service that provided free rides. That all has a big impact on one of the heaviest drinking days of the year.”
Smith said the LPD did not issue a DUI on New Year’s Eve 2017 either, but one was issued on New Year’s Eve 2016.
Additionally, Albany County Undersheriff Josh DeBree said the sheriff’s office didn’t issue any DUIs on Monday or Tuesday.
“The free rides from the towing service certainly help,” DeBree said. “And I think people are acting a little more responsible. Law enforcement has a heavy presence out there during the holiday, and that contributes to the lack of DUIs as well.”
For 21 years, A1 Recovery and Towing has offered Laramigos free rides and towing service on New Year’s Eve to help prevent driving under the influence.
Nicole Candelaria, A1 Recovery owner Shane Swett’s wife, said the company started offering free rides more than two decades ago as a way to honor her brother, who died in a drunken driving accident.
The New Year’s Eve ride requests started in the early afternoon Monday, but Candelaria said the phone didn’t really get hot until after 7 p.m. With the help of 10 volunteers, including a van and two drivers from Laramie GM Auto Center, she said A1 received 92 calls and helped 296 people get home safely. The company also towed four vehicles free of charge.
“We had more calls this year than last year, but for a Monday, it seemed a little slow on the tow side,” Candelaria said.
The towing company’s effort was aided by Snowy Range Taxi, LLC, which offered free rides on the holiday for the first time since the company was founded.
The taxi service did not respond to a request for comment as of press time Thursday.
While no one was charged with DUIs Monday or Tuesday, Smith said law enforcement still kept busy.
“Last year was a very quiet New Year’s Eve — we only handled 18 calls in about a 24-hour period,” she said. “This year, we had 26 calls, which was up considerably.”
Several of the calls were hit-and-run accidents, she said, but the LPD did respond to three alcohol-related incidents on Monday.
“I think each year is different,” Smith said. “It seems to fluctuate, but I think the weather contributed to the hit-and-run trend we saw this year.”