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Cops, cabbies ready for New Year's Eve

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The best way for Charleston revelers to get a free taxi ride home after New Year's Eve celebrations is with the local cab company's smartphone application.

And police said everyone should use that free service or get another safe ride home because officers are out in full force to catch impaired drivers.

Jeb Corey, CEO of C&H Taxi, said his company is giving free rides home to anyone who requests it through the "IntoxiTaxi" program starting Monday and lasting until the morning hours of Tuesday.

Cab drivers will take customers on any trip that starts or ends in Kanawha County up to 15 miles. Any distance beyond that and the passenger must pay the remainder out of pocket, Corey said.

The service's conditions are the person requesting the ride must be going straight home -- not to another bar or party. And everyone in the cab must buckle up.

The easiest way to request a cab is with the free C&H Taxi application for the iPhone or Android. Customers won't have to find a cab on the street and could skip hold times trying to reach a dispatcher, he said.

"Once a taxi is assigned to you for you trip, [the application] will keep you updated and you can watch as your taxi arrives on a digital map," he said.

Callers can also request the IntoxiTaxi by calling 304-344-4902.

On an average weeknight, C&H Taxi gives about 350 rides. That number is expected to double this holiday, he said.

The free rides are co-sponsored by Capitol Beverage, West Virginia Radio, and Heineken.

State Police Sgt. Michael Baylous said local police detachments are deploying large numbers of troopers to search for impaired drivers on the highways.

Charleston Police Lt. Sean Williams said officers from his department and deputies from the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office will patrol along main roads and side streets.

Police are taking a zero tolerance approach to impaired driving and anyone caught could face fines and jail time, Williams said.

Baylous said New Year's Eve is one of the busiest nights for police.

"Many New Year's Eve parties involve alcohol and that is the main reason why we do step up our patrols," he said. "We want to create the deterrent effect."

Besides alcohol, officers are trained to detect drivers under the influence of illegal drugs, prescription pills and inhalants, Baylous said.

Impaired drivers endanger the lives of the driver and everyone around them. In 2011, there were 90 traffic fatalities involving a driver with a blood alcohol content higher than the 0.08 percent legal limit.

"We hope common sense prevails and people will be kind and courteous to other motorists on the roadway rather than being selfish and behaving in a manner that puts lives at risk," Baylous said.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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