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NAPLES, Italy — In his “younger years,” Petty Officer 2nd Class Bernard Kruzensk might have been a frequent flier on a program aimed at keeping drunken sailors from slipping behind the steering wheel after a night on the town.

Now, the aged 21-year-old, an intelligence specialist, says he’s not much of a drinker anymore. But he is comforted in knowing that, if he does have too much to drink while partying at any of the numerous night clubs in Naples, he and his friends will have a safe way home.

Almost as importantly, he said, is the notion that the Tipsy Taxi program is one where no questions are asked.

In a country where there is no 21-in-order-to-drink law, sailors as young as 17 and 18 are boozing it up, Kruzensk said.

He was one.

“I came overseas when I was 17, and did that extended two-year drinking thing,” he said of his first tour in England. “People tend to just go crazy.”

And sometimes they needed help getting home.

After a trial run last year, the Chief Petty Officers Association of Naval Support Activity Naples has expanded its revised Tipsy Taxi program, which used to run only during holiday seasons. Now it is available year-round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We tested this last season and it was pretty popular,” said Senior Chief Sam Robinson, president of the chiefs association.

Pretty popular after a serious modification, he said.

Under their former prevention program, chiefs would pull rotational on-call duty to pick up drunken sailors, Robinson said. “The chief would come, pick them up, their name would be jotted down, and there could be a black mark on [the drunken sailor’s] record,” he said.

The program wasn’t yielding the desired results because, Robinson said, no one would call. Hence that modification: Now, even if sailors are too drunk to remember their names, it doesn’t really matter — no one records them.

“We just wanted to ensure that they’d have a system they would actually use,” Robinson said.

Sailors unable to get themselves home can take a taxi to one of two designated sites, and the fare will be covered by a fund established by the chiefs.

Sailors can have someone at the establishment where they have been drinking call a cab for them, or they can call one of the Tipsy Taxis’ phone numbers at various commands around the base and someone there will help. The taxi must deliver them to NSA Capodichino or the Support Site at Gricignano, where military police have access to cash to pay the cab fare, Robinson said.

Since November, the program has been used about 15 to 20 times. The money set aside to pay fares comes out of the dues and funds the chief petty officers raise.

The association has been getting the word out about the program, said Petty Officer 1st Class Carl Anthony, 31. He has seen it mentioned repeatedly in the base newspaper and in command safety briefings.

“They’ve done a good job educating the sailors,” he said.

Where to call Tipsy Taxi

The Tipsy Taxi program has been extended to cover sailors all year long. If you have had too much to drink or your driving ability is otherwise impaired, wherever you are in the Naples area, don’t get behind the wheel. For a free ride, call:


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