Many options available to avoid DUI this weekend and all summer |

Many options available to avoid DUI this weekend and all summer

With several free ride options available in the Aspen area, there’s no excuse for driving drunk during this weekend’s annual Food & Wine Classic, or ever, according to law enforcement sources.

“I can’t think of a single reason anyone would drive (drunk) when all these options are offered by the city and the county,” Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said Tuesday. “There’s three free ways to get into town from my front door.”

First and foremost, there’s the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, which runs free buses around Aspen and to Snowmass Village until bar closing time at 2 a.m. RFTA also operates the Crosstown Shuttle, which provides free rides to and from the Aspen Institute and Music Tent into town.

One of the best options for those who’ve had too much to drink is the Tipsy Taxi program. Started nearly 35 years ago by a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy who was fed up with drunken driving carnage, the program is still going strong and is funded, in part, by drivers cited for DUI.

Ask any Aspen area bartender or an Aspen police officer or Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy and they will hand out a voucher good for a taxi ride home to most areas in the upper Roaring Fork Valley. People can even call the Police Department or Sheriff’s Office and if officers or deputies are available, they will bring party-goers a voucher to get home safely.

“We’ll help out when we can,” Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn said. “A lot of officers have (vouchers) in their bags in their cars.”

The city of Aspen recently started the electric-car Downtowner service, which provides free rides around the downtown area from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. in the summer. In order to access the service, go to, download the application and order a ride. Downtowner riders are encouraged to tip drivers.

Another option is “Free Phil,” DiSalvo said.

He means Phillip Sullivan, who fought the law and spent time in jail for operating an illegal cab at one point to be able to provide the nonprofit “Free Rides For People Who Need Them.” Call 970-319-2714 to order a ride. Tips are encouraged for that service, as well.

Even if you pay for a taxi ride, it is guaranteed to be cheaper than a DUI. The Colorado State Patrol reported recently that the average cost of a DUI is about $13,000, Linn said.

He offered yet another free option for those who want to avoid drinking and driving: walking.

“Unless you’re staying on Red Mountain or at Aspen Highlands, you can walk anywhere in Aspen in 10 to 15 minutes,” he said. “If you’re in town, you’ve got a lot of options.”

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