Party-goers in the Washington, DC metro area will soon be seeing a visible reminder of the options they have when it comes to driving drunk — or choosing not to. The “chooser cruiser” is a new vehicle that anti-drunk driving advocates will use around the region as a publicity stunt with a positive message.

Drunk driving accidents took the lives of over 10,000 people in 2010. This figure tends to be at its peak near the holidays, when longer nights and the icy roads of Virginia, Maryland and DC can make for even more perilous driving conditions.

After midnight, when those who have attended holiday gatherings are headed home, alcohol can produce even deadlier traffic situations.

The “chooser cruiser” is part taxi and part police car, but it sends an integrated message — if people consume alcohol, they have options when it comes to leaving. The two main options, as depicted by the look of the car, are either riding in a taxi or riding in a police car.

The vehicle is a sort of mobile billboard, and will make its presence known to area residents this season. Despite Virginia’s tough laws against drunk driving, including mandated ignition interlock devices for some offenders, alcohol-related fatalities still occur with regularity each holiday season.

On Nov. 18, the early morning hours in Williamsburg saw a hit-and-run that culminated in DUI charges for an elementary school principal. After hitting a utility pole in her SUV, the 38-year-old woman drove away from the scene and now faces not only DUI charges, but also hit and run with property damage.

While thankfully no one was seriously hurt in that accident, the incident marks the start of an always unpredictable holiday driving season.

Source: The Washington Post, “‘Chooser Cruiser’ on the hunt for drunk drivers,” Nov. 22, 2012