Culture
4:46 pm
Wed December 29, 2010

How To Get Out Of Downtown Austin On New Year's Eve

The cops just sent out a news release saying New Year's Eve will be another "No Refusal" night. Austin Police officers will forcibly extract blood from any drunk driving suspect who refuses a breathalyzer.  The policy will be in effect from 9 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Saturday.

It shouldn't come as a big surprise to anyone, given the APD's penchant for launching "No Refusal" initiatives anytime there's a major holiday.  More than half of the traffic fatalities over the past year have been alcohol related, according to police.

Not that you would ever consider drunk driving, of course. But you may want to plan ahead if you plan on going out for New Year's Eve. Calling a cab after midnight on NYE is notoriously difficult in Austin.  Wait times can be up to 2 hours, if you can even get through to a dispatcher.

If you're downtown, a better option is usually hailing a taxi. In crowded areas after the bars let out, you may benefit from taking a pedicab over the Congress or First Street bridges (usually that's the furthest they'll go) and try to hail an empty taxi on its way back downtown.

People over 21 can actually score a free cab ride home between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. on New Year's Eve, thanks to a program called SoberRide. Maximum fare is $30. The program is paid for by corporate sponsors like AT&T and Budweiser, and also receives support from APD, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Travis County Sheriff's Office, and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, among others.

You can also try getting a ride home from a service like Tipsy Taxi Austin, which will drive you home in your own car. A second driver follows along to pick up the first driver after he or she drops off you and your vehicle. They charge $20 for rides under 6 miles, and $2.50 for every extra mile.

Capital Metro will be operating on a Saturday schedule on New Year's Eve, but it will provide its "Night Owl Service", meaning buses will run along six major routes at least once an hour until 3 a.m. Plot your trip here, or simpler yet, use Google Maps to plan your bus route.

Of course, if money is no object, save yourself the hassle and just book a stretch limo or, better yet, a party bus.

BONUS: Two of the best NYE event listings in the city can be found here and here.