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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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June 16, 2024

Designated driver? At least have a soda.

Alcohol-related driving accidents in the B-CS area have reached a five-year high, according to a press release from the Brazos Valley Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse.
This fall, Northgate bars and law enforcement are joining forces to enforce a sober driver campaign that distributes free fountain drinks to anyone identifying themselves as a designated driver for the night. The campaign, “Northgate Cares,” has allocated special red cups to participating bars to be handed out to sober drivers with a non-alcoholic beverage of their choice.
Students have already begun taking notice of this new approach to tackle drunk driving.
“I feel like it’s a really nice gesture,” said accounting senior Pat Smith. “It will also keep designated drivers from having one or two beers, which often turns into four or five as the night progresses.”
This campaign is the partnership between the Northgate District, College Station Police Department and the Coalition for Alcohol Responsibility and Education.
Michael Chism, coalition coordinator at the Brazos Valley Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse, works with organizations involved in the endorsement of “Northgate Cares.”
“I believe this campaign can go a long way because even though it’s simple, it works on many levels to change social norms,” Chism said.
Chism also said it is important to recognize the responsibility and dependability of the sober driver.
“When a sober driver sees that they are supported by their local law enforcement and special interest groups, my hope is that they will feel emboldened by their decision to be responsible,” Chism said. “When a sober driver is rewarded with a free fountain drink and sees other drivers brandishing their red CARE cups, my hope is that they will feel appreciated and encouraged.”
CSPD Officer David Driskill said similar programs in the past have merited some concerns.
“Programs like these have a history of abuse,” Driskill said. “My worry is that people will take advantage of their free beverages by mixing alcohol in it.”
Ben Smith, victims advocate at Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Bryan, ,said the move is a step in the right direction.
“At MADD, we help victims of drunk driving accidents while doing our best to prevent them,” Smith said. “Our goal with ‘Northgate Cares’ is to drastically reduce the number of visits to jail, hospitals and to the morgue.”
Smith said he just wants everyone to get home safe.
“If we can get a few people to plan ahead and designate a smart ride home, everyone will be a whole lot safer,” Smith said.

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