Wright County, Minnesota (with a population of about 120,000), is currently the sixth deadliest county in the state for impaired motor vehicle crashes. Sixty-six percent of the fatal crashes in Wright County in the last year were alcohol-related, compared to the statewide rate of 30 percent in 2009. In 2008 alone there were approximately 675 impaired driving convictions. To add to the problem, there is no public transportation in Wright County.
When Mike MacMillan, the director of Wright County Court Services, learned about the Isanti County Sober Cab Program, he called a meeting of Safe Communities of Wright County, Wright County Judge Stephen Halsey, the Wright County sheriff, and the Wright County attorney to meet with the Isanti County District Court Judge James Dehn. Dehn played a vital role in starting Isanti County’s successful Sober Cab Program.
After deciding to begin their own sober cab program in Wright County, the organizers discussed different program structure options, including who should be involved in the program, what it should cost, when it should begin, where it should be offered, what the community should gain from the program, and what type of transportation should be used. Once the details were determined, Wright County began to expand the program through the support of beer distributors, establishments that serve alcohol, and community fund supporters. The organizers then began to market the program through the use of table tents, posters, business cards, billboards, and key tags.
The team decided to begin the Wright County Sober Cab program along the county’s I-94 corridor. Initially, this will include the cities of Albertville, Clearwater, Monticello, Otsego, and St. Michael, but the program hopes to expand throughout all of Wright County.
The cost of the Wright County Sober Cab program will be supported by alcohol-serving establishments and beer distributors and with community donations.