"Anyone can enter:" Racine officials hope poster contest will raise awareness of "Safe Ride Program"

RACINE COUNTY (WITI) -- As we approach the holiday season, officials in Racine County want folks to have a good time, but to do so responsibly. They're hoping a new contest will help to spread the word statewide.

News of intoxicated drivers, and the catastrophic damage they sometimes inflict on innocent bystanders hit the airwaves on what feels like a weekly basis. For a group of law enforcement and tavern league officials, success is measured when a night out doesn't turn into tomorrow morning's headline.

"Over the last 12 months, we gave over 82,000 free rides home to impaired customers throughout the state," Pete Madland, the executive director of the Tavern League of Wisconsin said.

It's all part of the "Safe Ride Program" which is available in 61 of the state's counties.

At participating establishments, those who have overindulged can get a free lift home.

"Getting the awareness out and just (making it) second nature that taking a safe ride is not a stigma that you're a drunk. You're more responsible because you are taking that ride home," Lou Larson, president of the Racine City Tavern League said.

In an effort to raise awareness and promote the program statewide, officials are launching a poster contest with a top prize of $5,000.

"We designed the contest so that anyone can enter -- from grade school on up through college level through graphic design professionals," Dan Taivalkoski, vice president of the Southern Zone Tavern League said.

These officials are hoping that increasing public awareness of the program will have a trickle down effect.

"I think the Average Joe for lack of better words doesn't think about the Safe Ride Program. We want that to be second nature. We want people to enjoy themselves, once again, but we want them to know that there's an alternative. We don't need to get behind the wheel of a car and drive if we are impaired," Racine County Sheriff's Christopher Schmaling said.

Twenty runners up in this poster contest will be given $200.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the poster contest, and/or to enter.