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LOS ANGELES : 'Paddy Wagons' Offer Free Rides Home for Holiday

Metropolitan Digest / LOS ANGELES COUNTY NEWS IN BRIEF

March 17, 1994

A fleet of decorated St. Patrick's Day "Paddy Wagons" will roam the streets today to take drinking party-goers home as the safety program expands citywide in its fourth year.

Off-duty police officers will drive 17 vans donated by Budget Rent-A-Car, but there is no threat of arrest for those who take advantage of the free program. People wanting a ride home simply telephone their nearest police station. A white van festooned with green shamrocks will respond. The idea is to keep drunk drivers off the road.

"It's a sign of boldness that the LAPD is able to go out and again provide such a great program," Police Chief Willie L. Williams said during a news conference announcing the expanded program.

The St. Patrick's Day program served only the San Fernando Valley in the past.

"On a night like St. Patrick's Day when people party with alcohol, this is a way to help them be responsible," said Jeff Mirkin, president of Budget Rent-A-Car Southern California. "If they've had too much to drink, they can go home in one of these vans and be safe and responsible."

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