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DUI arrests way down in 2009

Drinking and driving arrests were way down in 2009 and it's not because the Rosemount Police Department has relaxed on the issue. It seems tough enforcement over the last several years has led to some changes.

Lt. Jewel Ericson said he believes increased media efforts and strict enforcement have brought more awareness to the public about drinking and driving. He said the message seems to have affected people's habits.

In 2009 the Rosemount Police Department made roughly 140 DUI arrests. That's down from 236 in 2008. Officers had a department-high number of arrests in 2007 with 251.

Ericson said over the last couple of years nighttime police officers have noticed an increase in the number of cars left at Rosemount drinking establishments.

"It seems like people are making plans and using services more," said Ericson.

In the past year and a half a few new services have opened up to Rosemount residents to help get them home safely. Ericson said he thinks the efforts of Carbone's Pizza and Jim, the ride guy, have probably led to less drunks on the roads as well.

Carbone's bus

Carbone's offers customers a free ride home on a bus the restaurant bought more than a year ago. Carbone's owner Dave Landgrebe said they wanted to take the fear out of going out.

"Customers can come in have three or four beers and get home without the hassle of deciding whether they should drive or not. It lets people relax. It's worked out really well," said Landgrebe.

The restaurant bought the used bus in the fall of 2008. They started running it, mostly on the weekends, last winter free of charge. The bus travels within a five-mile radius of the restaurant.

In addition to taking people home at the end of the night, Landgrebe said they also pick people up if they don't want to bring a vehicle downtown.

People take advantage of it often and Landgrebe said it has helped business. In addition to providing safe transportation the restaurant also uses the 15-passenger bus for special promotions. Landgrebe said they have brought kids to hockey tournaments, participated in golf outings and done casino trips as well.

A good Samaritan

Those who want to hang out at some of the city's other establishments can get a free ride home as well. Jim, who has asked his last name not be printed, has become "the ride guy" for many in Rosemount.

Jim started offering to bring people from the bars on Friday and Saturday in April. He put out flyers advertising a ride home in area bars. While things started slow, Jim said more and more people have started taking him up on his offer.

"The longer it goes the more people call," said Jim about providing the service.

Jim will take people anywhere in Rosemount and to some of the neighboring communities such as Apple Valley and Farmington. He starts accepting calls after 5 p.m. and runs until the bars close. Jim said bar close is when he is the busiest.

He doesn't charge anything but does accept donations. So far he said that system has worked out well.

"Most people will chip in a couple bucks, others will just give me a handshake and that's fine too," said Jim.

So why would someone give up the weekends to drive drunk people home? Jim said he knows what it's like and just wants to make sure people get home safe. And at times, he said, it's fun.

"It gets pretty humorous," said Jim.

To get a ride from Jim call 612-710-6965.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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