Police crack down on drunk driving; Neil’s Taxi offering free rides

HANCOCK – In their continuing effort to keep drunken drivers off the roads of northern Houghton County, the people at Neil’s Taxi will once again be offering free rides home for those who have partied too much on New Year’s Eve.

Company spokesman Steve Bates said the free rides, which began in the mid 1970s, were initiated as a way to keep as many drunken drivers as possible off the road. “They wanted to do it for the community,” he said.

The free rides will be available from midnight to 4 a.m. Jan. 1, and are restricted to only those people who have been drinking at either bars or parties, Bates said. They are also restricted to home destinations within a 10-mile-radius of the company offices in Hancock and Calumet. Drinking alcohol will not be allowed in the cabs, and people using the taxis for other destinations will be charged the regular fare.

Bates said he’s uncertain of the exact number of people taking advantage of the free rides.

“A lot of people are taking it from bars to go home,” he said.

Bates said the free rides have a value of about $300 to $400, but the company has about 60 sponsors who help cover that cost.

Four cabs will be available for the free rides, Bates said, and weather won’t be a factor for the service. “We’re still doing it no matter what,” he said.

For the Hancock/Houghton area, the telephone number for Neil’s Taxi is 482-5515, and in the Calumet/Laurium area, it’s 337-1800.