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CCPD’s newest cruiser stresses consequences of drinking and driving

By Staff | May 29, 2019

The Cape Coral Police Department unveiled a new cruiser on Friday to help drive home the message of how you should get home if intoxicated.

CCPD, in partnership with Cape Coral Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, announced the addition of a DUI concept car, a half-taxi/ half-police detailed vehicle, representing how one could choose a taxi or ride-share service when intoxicated, or a ride in a police cruiser if found to be operating a vehicle while under the influence.

The Dodge Charger added to the CCPD fleet will frequent the Cape’s entertainment district as a reminder to make the right decisions.

CCPD Chief David Newlan came up with the idea to raise awareness on Cape Coral streets — and is a step above a prior program aimed at curbing drunk drivers.

“Just looking at what we’re dealing with here with impaired driving and how we want to make an impact,” said Newlan on why he decided to come up with the concept car. “With all of the alternative options out there — taxis, Uber, Lyft — there’s so much out there available. It’s so easy to do. We wanted to remind (residents) of the cost difference.”

That cost difference is certainly a large one, as Uber fares usually range from the $10-30 rate. A DUI, however, can cost well over $10,000.

The true message behind the addition to the fleet is to create safer roads for drivers and pedestrians alike.

CCPD has been cracking down on impaired drivers, as there has been a 35 percent decrease in serious injury traffic crashes, and a 53 percent decrease in crash fatalities, between 2017 and 2018 in Cape Coral.

“If we can save one life with this car, it makes a difference,” said Newlan. “You have a send a message out here of education and awareness to remind people to not drink and drive, to not drive impaired. This vehicle will be a symbol of education.”

The front half of the vehicle features the traditional CCPD cruiser style design, while the other half is a taxi-yellow color.

“CHOOSE YOUR RIDE!” is highlighted along the sides, while the rear of the vehicle reads, “Make the Right Decision. DON’T Drive Impaired!”

The hood of the car lists the fees a driver may face if he or she is charged with DUI, totaling $13,820.

The managing partner of Cape Coral Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, Jay Ganzi, who donated a leased Dodge Charger for the program, said this was a project that hit home, as he had lost a family member due to drunk driving.

“Knowing that we’re going to get out there in the community and get this awareness out there we couldn’t think of a better partner to do anything with than with Chief Newlan and the police department. We’re very excited about this project.”

Mayor Joe Coviello was on hand to thank the CCPD for raising awareness in the area.

“It’s creative thinking and ideas like this that make the public aware of how bad drinking and driving can be. We all have seen tragic accidents — families that got destroyed over someone who drinks and drives. It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to remember to make arrangements if you’re going to go out and have a good time,” said Coviello.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving Southwest Florida Chapter director Lori Burke was present to tout the work of the CCPD and city for having a unique style of spreading the word and to remember to be safe during what was a holiday weekend.

“Thirty-seven percent of fatalities this weekend will be because of drunk driving. That’s 146 deaths across the nation that are 100 percent preventable,” said Burke.

The next time you’re out in South Cape’s entertainment district or out for a night of fun, or enjoying drinks at a local establishment, maybe it will be the new CCPD cruiser that can save your life, or a friend’s.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj