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FREE DRINKS FOR DESIGNATED DRIVERS

The Power Plant dance club is giving away free drinks, but only to those who don't want to drink.

The dance club has pledged with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to serve free non-alcoholic drinks to designated drivers in their campaign to keep drunken drivers off Utah roads."We want people to be responsible about partying," said Traci Houghton, Power Plant manager. The club will provide soft drinks, juice or virgin drinks to the designated drivers of any group entering the club.

"We feel it's important enough that we're willing to take whatever cost to promote safe driving," Houghton said.

Rodney Hopkins, of the Responsible Beverage Servers Program, said the young adults who usually frequent clubs are the hardest to control and most likely to be irresponsible. "We're having a problem especially with our young people who don't realize how much they can drink before they're drunk."

Fifty percent of all convicted DUI drivers begin their drinking habits in licensed clubs or bars, Hopkins said. If servers are willing to watch and control customers' drinking, and if managers will trust their servers' judgment, he said overall drinking and driving can be reduced.

Connie Harton, MADD president whose husband was killed by a drunk driver two years ago, said reduction is her goal. "We're not trying to take away people's free agency or choice. But if a good program could be implemented in the state to help end the slaughter that is occurring, we support that."

In 1991, 76 people died in car crashes. Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Craig Allred said 28 percent of those crashes were alcohol related. "We could save quite a few lives in the state of Utah if people would designate a driver."

Although Harton admits the free drinks will not divert partiers intent on drinking, the program will divert club members who don't want to endanger others once they leave the club.

Allred added, "If it prevents one fatality, it's worth it."