New Parking Permits May Decrease Drunken Driving in Bemidji

Authorities may have a solution to decrease drunken driving in Bemidji. The program is called “Safe Choice.” Bar establishments will be able to hand out temporary parking permits to individuals who would like to leave their vehicle overnight rather than risk driving drunk.

Keg N’ Cork owner Mitch Rautio, along with others from the Bemidji Downtown Alliance, has been working on a program like “Safe Choice” for a while. Rautio attended the City Council’s work session to explain exactly what the parking permits do.

The program will allow bar establishments in Bemidji to hand out a total of 6 “Safe Choice” parking permits per month to people who choose not to drive drunk. Vehicles with permits would only be only allowed to park in city lots. Permits will be available for $5 each, and the fees will go to the BDA parking fund. Drivers must pick up their vehicles before 8 in the morning the next day.

The BDA plans on doing a trial run and possibly make necessary adjustments.

About the Author
Sara Mattison is a News Reporter at KAWE-TV. Her beats include the Bemidji City Council and Beltrami County Board. You can contact Sara at

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