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Getting home New Year's Eve 

New blood-alcohol rules underscore the importance of not driving.

The importance of making transportation plans for New Year's Eve is amped up a bit this year thanks to new legislation that allow a police officer to be a one-person judge and jury, and to suspend a driver's licence for a week for, on the cop's word alone, having a blood-alcohol content of 0.05---that is, well below the criminal level of 0.08 that must be proved in open court with all the applicable rules of evidence and rights to an attorney and appeal.

But before getting too worked up about the new legislation, we suggest you read Craig Pinhey's exploration of the 0.05 issue, including honest talk about how many drinks over what period of time take you over the limit, found at thecoast.ca/BloodAlcohol. Still and all, with plenty of other options available, why risk driving?

"What we're finding is that people are planning ahead earlier in the week, so giving family members or teenage son or daughter, niece or nephew, 20 or 40 bucks to come pick them up," explains Corinne MacLellan, regional co-ordinator of Operation Red Nose, the service that provides volunteers to drive people's cars home from holiday celebrations. Unfortunately, Operation Red Nose itself can't muster up enough volunteers after Christmas, so this isn't an option for New Year's Eve.

Transit
Metro Transit deserves major kudos for its New Year's Eve service, which is completely free after 8:30pm and has extended hours. The ferry continues to run every half-hour well past midnight. Should you want to ring in the new year at the Celtic Corner or the famously fabulous Portland Street bars, the last boat leaves Dartmouth at 1:30am. Alternatively, Dartmouthians partying up on Argyle or wherever can catch the last boat leaving the Halifax terminal at 1:45am. Buses, too, run extra late, with some routes running as late as 2:30am. Check the complete schedule at thecoast.ca/NYEbus.

Taxis
There are no taxi zones in place this New Year's Eve, but it doesn't matter; like most cities, it's a problem catching cabs in Halifax on New Year's Eve because there are simply too many potential customers for the number of cabs available---it makes no sense to operate and insure a cab that only runs one night a year.

In a previous life, I drove a cab for five years, so I'm going to tell you the one and only sure-fire way to secure a cab driver for New Year's Eve: Bribe him. It's illegal, unethical and costs a lot of money, but that's how you do it. Take a cab somewhere today and make a deal with a driver---give him $50 above your fare and tell him there's another $100 in it for him if he picks you up at a set place and time on New Year's Eve. Don't even attempt to get fancy with New Year's cellphone calls and such---exact place, exact time, only, and make sure you're there. Otherwise, you can play cab roulette with the thousands of other folks trying to flag down cabs.

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