PORTLAND, Ore. -- It's a simple message from families that have experienced the horror of drunk driving: don't get behind the wheel after drinking this holiday weekend.
For Jeannette Robart, life never gets easier. It may never get easier.
“I can tell you what it’s like to live the rest of your life after cremating your own child. He was 17 when he passed,” said Robart.
She said her son, Nick Portis, got into a truck with a driver who was drunk. The truck flipped. Out of the handful of teens thrown from it, her son was the only one to die.
“It just all around creates hell for so many people,” she said.
That's why Robart and others were at Pioneer Courthouse Square on Friday, in the rain, with a crumpled truck. Their mission: to keep people from driving drunk and ruining lives.
“There's no excuses for driving drunk these days. There's just too many options to be able to make it home safely and to not put other people at risk,” Robart said.
There really is no excuse. On New Year’s Eve, TriMet officials say all public transportation will be free after 8 p.m. That includes the Portland Streetcar. MAX trains will run until 3 a.m.
Portland Bureau of Transportation officials say people can get $20 off coupons for a cab ride. They will be available at any bar in Old Town. Officials said Portland police officers and security guards in Old Town should have them too. The coupon is good for Broadway Cab, New Rose City Cab, Radio Cab, and United Independent Cab PDX.
Janelle Lawrence, the Executive Director of Oregon Impact, says it all starts with a plan before you head out.
“Once you've started drinking, if you're out celebrating, [it’s] not a great time to figure out how to get home,” said Lawrence.
If you're partial to Uber or Lyft, the promotional code “VISIONZERO" will give both Uber and Lyft riders $10 off the fare. Another code, “PDXNYE17” should also allow people to get $10 off if they’re using the Uber app.
“That's any fare. So it's not a percentage. So if you have a $10 trip, it's a free trip,” said Jon Isaacs, the Uber Public Affairs Manager in Portland.
Public transportation, a cab, Uber or Lyft are all options that could save lives.
“You really have to ask yourself, could I handle the consequences, if I was to die? If I was to kill somebody else, could I live with that? Could my family live with that?” Carrie Higgins, who lost her 17-year-old daughter Maddi in a car crash, said.
We also spoke with Joan Miller, a woman who is living with a traumatic brain injury after a drunk driver slammed into her car in 1999.
“I was in a coma for four days, ICU for two weeks,” Miller said. “Pieces of skull carved out some of my brain matter."
She said her case is a miracle and a medical anomaly considering the extent of her injuries. When she woke up, she had to learn everything all over again. Things many people take for granted, like driving, tying shoes or zipping a jacket, can be difficult for her.
“Everyday is a challenge. But I’ve chosen to live a purpose-filled life,” said Miller.
Miller said she’s forgiven the man who drove drunk, and caused her severe brain injury. Now she’s on a mission she hopes she’ll fulfill by telling her story.
“It’s why God put me here. It’s my mission to change and save lives.”