A local business will provide free rides on New Year’s Eve for the 19th year in a row as part of an effort to prevent drunken driving.

The A-1 Safe Ride Safe Tow Home program is run by co-owners Shane Swett and Nicole Candelaria.  Along with a large team of volunteers, they will transport people – and their vehicles – get around town from roughly 3 p.m. Thursday to 3 a.m. Friday.

Swett says he has picked people up as early as 11:30 a.m. on New Year’s Eve and as late as 5 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

“You can go out and have fun, just let us do all the driving.  It’s a hundred percent free,” says Swett.  “Don’t feel like you have to give a tip; we’re happy to do it.”

The program has grown significantly over nearly two decades of operation.

“I only took home two people the first year we did it,” says Swett.  “It’s grown to where we do about four hundred a year now.”

Lt. Gwen Smith of the Laramie Police Department says the program has played a significant role in reducing drunken driving in Laramie.

“The rides that Shane Swett and his business offer, they’ve had a very positive impact on the number of impaired drivers that we see,” says Lt. Smith.

Lt. Smith says that over the past two New Year’s holidays, the department has made only five DUI arrests.

“We’ll take you out to dinner if you want to go out to dinner and drink, we’ll drop you off wherever you want when you’re ready to go to a bar downtown,” says Swett.  “And we’ll pick everyone up when they’re done.”

Swett says the service was started after Nicole's brother, Cal Ray Candelaria, was killed in a drunken-driving accident in 1993.

“You know sometimes we think that we’re doing the right thing because we’re not going to be the one that gets a DUI,” says Swett.  “He got into a car with someone who was also drinking, and then they lost control and went off the road and it ended up killing them both.”

“The basic moral of the story is if you’re got a free ride with a sober driver, let us take care of you,” says Swett.  “Just let us do it, and that particular night I know we can get you home safe.”

Anyone interested in a free ride from A-1 Towing & Recovery can call 760-1213 to arrange service.

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