NILES - City police are hoping a new paint job for an old cruiser will make people stop and take notice.
In conjunction with a nationwide "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" crackdown on drunken driving, the Niles Police Department parked a symbolic police-cab at the front of the station Friday.
Patrolman Shawn Crank believes the vehicle will help make potential offenders more aware of the many dangers associated with drunken driving.
"We have the car here to get attention and make people think for a moment," Crank said. "We want people to wonder 'what is that?' and 'why is it there?'"
Officials said that because the Ford Crown Victoria is associated with either police cruisers or taxi cabs, it made sense to bring the two together to create an important message.
"I wish I could say it was my idea to morph the two together," Crank said. "It was my idea to bring it here, but I originally saw it down in Savannah, Ga."
Along with the dangers associated with driving while drunk, police are also illustrating the monetary difference between calling a cab and being picked up by police for an OVI violation.
"It's going to cost you less than $20 to get home in a cab," Crank said. "If you take the chance and try to drive, you could be dealing with the other end in the white car. That could cost you $10,000.
"The fines might only be $500, but when you add in attorney's fees, missed work and insurance rates, you are going to pay a lot more," he continued.
The national crackdown on drunken driving runs until Sept. 2, during which time Niles police will increase patrols assigned to OVI enforcement and conduct an OVI checkpoint.
In addition to the police-cab, pamphlets supplying information, statistics and contact information is available inside the Niles Safety-Service Complex, 15 E. State St.
"Pamphlets are available for anyone at the court window or downstairs at the dispatch window," Crank said. "We're also going to do a Scrappers game and we'll have it at the Eastwood Mall over the course of the next couple weeks."
Officials said all of the funds were raised privately for the campaign and no taxpayer money was used for the car or informational materials.
"That's important to note, because there were some comments on Facebook that we were wasting money on this," Crank said. "We didn't spend any tax dollars."
Those private donations were made by All-American Taxi, Duffy's Body Shop, Ed Miller Sign and COPS Driving Academy for Teens.
The campaign takes place in the weeks leading up to and through Labor Day weekend because it is a notoriously dangerous time of year for drunk driving. Among 18 to 34-year-old drivers killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the 2011 Labor Day weekend, 42 percent were impaired by alcohol.
Eighty-three percent of those fatal accidents occurred from 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.
"Labor Day weekend is known as sort of the 'last hurrah' for the summertime," Crank said.