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Little-known city program rewards responsibility

A program that waives parking tickets to stop people from drunk driving is rarely utilized in Austin. (CBS Austin)

A program that waives parking tickets to stop people from drunk driving is rarely utilized in Austin.

The city of Austin could waive parking tickets if someone has a receipt for their ride home from downtown and fill out the proper paperwork. This "Get Home Safe Program" aims to prevent people from driving home drunk.

However, the city says its only been used 22 times since 2014. That includes once in 2014, twice in 2015, 13 times in 2016 and six times so far in 2017.

“We’ve had one person use it four separate times," parking operations manager Jason Redfern said.

Redfern said he thinks it's under utilized just because people don't know about it. He and the city would like more people to take advantage of it. However, he said people should make plans before going out.

“This is kind of a last resort for people to use but again we don’t want the citation to be the impetus for somebody to do something wrong or make a bad decision," Redfern said.

Redfern said people must have a receipt from a bus, ride-share, taxi or other service and fill out paperwork. Then take it to 1111 Rio Grande St. downtown or email it to transportation@austintexas.gov. It also has to be turned in within 24 hours.

However, not every ticket may be waived. It's up to a judge to get rid of the ticket, and they may not approve if the car isn't moved at a reasonable time the next day. It's unclear when that is because it's all up to the judge, Redfern said.

"So it has to be reasonable, you leave your vehicle overnight, we expect you to come get the vehicle the next day," Redfern said.

When asked, most people downtown Monday didn't know about the program. Emily Ponichtera and Berrett Hollis live downtown and say they hadn't heard about it. They say they'll now spread the word to friends.

“People that park downtown they’re like oh I like paid for parking so they feel obligated to drink and drive with this program they could leave their car," Hollis said.


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