Austin Does It Right – Free Overnight Parking for Safe Drinkers

austin-overnight-parking-for-drinkersThe decision to drink and drive is a strange thing.  Though it’s reckless, it’s not necessarily made by reckless people. It’s arrogant, but arrogance isn’t the cause either.

The reason people drive drunk is often because they want to get home and sleep in their own bed. And often it’s even more mundane: it’s because they want to get their car home. In a city like Austin overnight parking is hard to find. If you’re out drinking there and decide to leave your car and take a Lyft home, you run the risk of a parking ticket.

The city of Austin recognizes that the pressure to get a car home and avoid a ticket – or worse, towing – results in drunk driving and thus collisions, injury and death. So the city is forgiving parking tickets and not towing vehicles as long as the driver can prove that he or she took a safe way home the previous night.

All that residents need to do is submit proof online in order to get a waiver, and they’ve got free Austin overnight parking.

To Drink is Human, to Forgive Divine

Forgiving parking tickets is an idea that is taking off much too slowly – every city should offer a program like Austin’s. Drunk driving costs the US something like $132 billion every year.

Individuals bear a lot of that cost – insurance rates and medical expenses, for instance. But city and state governments shell out a lot too. Drunk drivers hit light poles, guard rails, and other public structures that cost a lot of money. Prosecuting drunk drivers also burdens the courts and the DMV. It’s therefore a wise decision to forego a few parking fines to ensure that more citizens get home safely via public transportation.

A hat tip to Austin, and a call to other cities: sometimes all it takes to reduce drunk driving rates is to give the drive a bit of space – on the sidewalk. We hope this program takes off everywhere in the US.