"Cab or Cell" coasters for DUI prevention in Fairfax County

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WJLA) - An important reminder is cropping up under beer and cocktail glasses in Fairfax County. It’s the newest effort to stop drunk driving in Virginia, and several local restaurants are getting on board.

One restaurant manager we spoke with learned the importance of education the hard way.

“I went out had a few too many drinks was driving home and got arrested,” said Paul Erb.

He got busted for drunk driving not once, but twice.

“It took very long to rebound from that,” he admitted.

Luckily, Erb didn't cause any accidents, but the consequences of not having a designated driver a couple of times in his twenties cost him a lot later in life -- including $15,000 in legal fees.

“I spent a lot of time serving tables and holding lower end jobs after the incidents because I had no transportation to and from work,” he informed.

Now 37, the general manager of The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille in Fairfax is making sure his customers don't make his same mistakes.

“I’ve made my way out of it and dug myself out of this hole and brought myself back and now I run this restaurant and I believe it's my responsibility to help prevent others from doing the same thing I did,” he said.

His restaurant and several others are now unveiling new “Cab or Cell” drink coasters with information on who to call for a safe ride home.

Lynette Rowe of Fairfax likes what she sees. “You pick up your drink and you always see ‘cab or cell,’ she said. “It's your call.”

“I wish I would have had this when I was 18,” joked Michael Fort of Burke. He said it would have saved him from a little trouble and agrees the coasters send a great message.

The Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County is partnering with Fairfax Yellow Cab and Red Top Cab and rolling out the campaign they hope saves lives.

UPC’s “Cab or Cell” drink coasters feature a flip side with “Let Us Be Your Designated Driver” with phone numbers from Fairfax Yellow Cab and Red Top Cab. The cab companies helped pay for the printing of the 25,000 coasters.

“It’s pretty well-known that if you just keep hitting people with the same message constantly over and over again and they see the same thing over and over again that at least they're going to think twice about it,” said UPC President Lisa Adler.

Four Fairfax restaurants located near George Mason University are introducing the drink coasters this month. They include The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille, The Auld Shebeen, Hard Times Café Fairfax and Buffalo Wing University.

Twenty-somethings we spoke with say that when it comes to drinking and driving, they don't want to roll the dice.

“I’ve had a couple of my really close friends have one too many,” admitted 22 year-old Josh Greenfield of Burke. “They got pulled over [and] got arrested for a DUI.”

“I’ve never gotten a DUI,” said 26 year-old Julee Barr of Fairfax County who considers herself lucky. “Thank God,” she continued. “I've been close. I've had my close calls.”

Last year, 266 crashes in Fairfax County were caused by young people drinking then getting behind the wheel. Drivers between 21 and 24 years old were responsible for about 70-percent of those accidents.

October is the peak month for crashes involving 15 to 24-year-olds.