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CDOT offering limited free parking in LoDo to cut down on drinking and driving

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DENVER -- With a DUI crackdown underway statewide, some Denver drivers are taking advantage of a new option:  free overnight parking downtown.

For the next few Fridays, the Last Call Lot at 2060 Larimer St. in LoDo is offering free overnight parking and security as long as you sign a pledge not to drink and drive.

When the Last Call Lot opened at 6 p.m. on Friday evening, Mark Rousch, of Westminster, was the first in line.

"We were like, we might as well get in line right away so we don't miss a spot," Rousch said.

Mark and other drivers parked their cars in the lot, and agreed to pick them up on Saturday between 7-10 a.m.

Mother's Against Drunk Driving helped gather the pledges from drivers, and parking wasn't the only reward. Lyft also handed out $20 vouchers for a ride home, and HiRise restaurant offered coupons for free coffee and $2 off a breakfast sandwich.

CDOT paid for the lot with a small portion of the grant money they received from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is used for traffic safety education initiatives and advertising.

"What we're trying to do right here is just make a splash and get people talking about DUIs," said CDOT spokesperson Emily Wilfong.

That splash will cost CDOT $3,500 to lease the lot for the next three Fridays, but even those who weren't using it said it was worth it.

"As long as it's not coming out of (our kids') classrooms and it's education for public service, yeah, I think that's no problem," said Nicole Antonson, who was in LoDo with her son Friday night. "It's advertising itself."

For the 30 drivers who found a spot, it was a welcome option.

"If they did more of this I think there would be a lot less drinking and driving just because a lot of people get in their car and drive just because they don't want to pay for parking," Rousch said.

"Risking it isn't worth my job, you know, court fees… anything related to a DUI," said Melanie Honsbruch, of Denver.

Though officers will still be out cracking down the next few weekends, they were also happy to know a few drivers would be staying parked.

"It may only be 30 (cars), but that's 30 people who have made a good decision tonight," said CSP trooper Josh Lewis. "If we can get another 30 every single night, pretty soon the problem will be eliminated."

For more information, visit CDOT's Facebook page devoted to the lot.