In 2021, the Washington (D.C.) Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) offered 1,500 rides via Lyft on St. Patrick's Day. Each ride was a voucher for no more than $15. Some cities in Indiana also offered Lyft and Uber rides via its Sober Ride Indiana program. Other states also regularly offered some options for impaired drivers.
However, Lyft and Uber were not offering free rides nationwide on the holiday.
On March 17, 2021, rumors spread of purported free Lyft and Uber rides in the U.S. for impaired drivers on the night of St. Patrick's Day.
Readers may have seen headlines such as: "Uber, Lyft to provide impaired drivers free rides home." Articles like these did hold some truth. However, there was more to the story.
We found no indication that Uber and Lyft were offering free rides nationwide on that day. The stories appeared to pertain mainly to Washington, D.C., and some cities in Indiana.
The Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) announced that it would offer free rides to up to 1,500 people. The "free" ride amount for St. Patrick's Day was capped at $15, meaning a cap of $22,500 in total rides.
WRAP’s 2021 St. Patrick’s Day SoberRide® Promo Code will be posted at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 17, 2021. Limited quantities available. Valid for the first 1,500 Lyft passengers who enter the code. The code will be valid from 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 until 2:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 18, 2021. Enter the code in the app’s ‘Promo’ section. Valid for up to $15 off one ride taken home in the Washington D.C. coverage area.
The @DCPoliceDept also tweeted the special offer for impaired drivers.
Some cities in Indiana also offered free rides to impaired drivers on the holiday via Lyft and Uber. More information was available on the Sober Ride Indiana website:
Rides are available if they originate in or have a destination of Bloomington, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, South Bend, and West Lafayette between Wednesday, March 12th and Monday, April 5th.
Credits can only be redeemed between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m.
The City of Indianapolis Office of Public Health and Safety (OPHS) tweeted about the special offer to keep the roads safe:
Other States and Cities
We were unable to find information on free rides for Lyft and Uber in other locations. However, some cities and states have special programs to get people home safe. For example, the Texas Department of Transportation has featured its SoberRides.org website in the past:
Rides for COVID Vaccinations
Separate from St. Patrick's Day, both Lyft and Uber tweeted about options for people who needed help traveling to a COVID-19 vaccination site.
In sum, free rides were not available nationwide via Lyft and Uber on St. Patrick's Day in 2021. However, some cities offered special programs that partnered with the companies. Other cities and states already had options in place for potentially impaired drivers.
We previously reported on a similar story about Lyft offering free rides to job seekers who need a way to travel to interviews.