By J.D. Miles, CBS 11 News

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – There is a new program in Dallas that is designed to keep drunk drivers off of the road, but it is not intended for the general public. Instead, the program is for police officers who have had a little too much to drink and cannot properly operate their vehicles.

Throughout all of last year, the combination of North Texas police officers and alcohol has produced some embarrassing and tragic consequences. “We have had officers arrested for driving while intoxicated. We have had officers in neighboring cities arrested for intoxication manslaughter,” said Glenn White with the Dallas Police Association. “We don’t want that to happen here.”

The key to solving that problem may soon be on the keychains of Dallas police officers. All cops have been enrolled in the Dallas Police Association’s new program that provides free cab rides home for members who have had too much to drink. The program allows cab companies to bill the Dallas Police Association, which will pay for the fares with member dues.

“We are not going to be able to stop officers if they want to have a beer or two,” acknowledged White, “but we want them to know we have an option for them.”

Mothers Against Drunk Driving has applauded the concept, which it has never seen attempted by a police organization. “Anything that keeps people from putting the key in the ignition and driving is always a good thing,” said MADD spokeswoman Mary Kardell.

But other alcohol awareness groups argue that free rides are not addressing the real problem. “Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to provide programs like this,” said Debbie Maliborski with the Greater Dallas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, “if we could get the message across to make healthy and responsible decisions in the first place?”

And citizens may also soon start seeing special wristbands on the arms of Dallas police officers and others across the city. They are a part of the Blue Backs You campaign, which aims take the tarnished badge and restore its shine in 2011. The wristbands can be purchased from the Dallas Police Association.