FORT WORTH, Texas -
They're the ones trying to put an end to drunken driving. But what happens when police officers have one too many and need a ride home?
Houston police are getting on board with a program several North Texas police departments already have. If an officer is drinking and can't drive they can get a cab ride home for free.
"This is not an officer who has to be drunk. It could be an officer who's had one or two drinks who just doesn't feel comfortable driving home. We're not going to ask any questions on their level of intoxication or anything else," said Ray Hunt with the Houston police officers' union.
Dallas police introduced a similar program three years ago.
"We saw some concerns out there and officers having some issues with DWIs and our role is to help officers and that was one of the ways we could work to help officers," said Ron Pinkston with the Dallas Police Association.
If an officer needs a safe ride home, they can call a cab, show the driver a card and the ride is paid.
"Our members have liked it tremendously. It's used a handful of times each month and it's not abused and it's been a great program. It's been very successful," Pinkston said.
Another department that's had it for about three years is Fort Worth.
Unfortunately in that time several officers have been arrested for drinking and driving. Most recently the department's chief of staff and a DWI enforcement officer were arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving applauds the program.
"Once you've had a few to drink you don't think correctly. You just don't. Your brain changes. That's why this program is great, because ahead of time they can think, 'Okay, I've got this card. I can make this call,'" said Jeff Miracle with MADD.
Unlike the other programs, Fort Worth's was not set up to be used only for officers who are intoxicated. But it has been one of the program's key elements and organizations like MADD hate to see officers arrested for something they can avoid.
"Lots of phone calls, lots of emails, lots of visits to our office of what can we do more to really get the word out and really make a difference in these folks," Miracle said.
The program is paid for and only available for members of the police officers' union and only if they sign up for it. But it's anonymous so there's no record of if and when an officer uses it.
From our KDFW FOX 4 news partners: http://www.myfoxdfw.com/story/20702001/program-offers-free-cab-ride-for-drunk-officers#ixzz2J0sCF7vX