Data from the Tucson Police Department shows it made 126 DUI arrests in December 2022, more than a 70% jump from the month before.

Drunk driving ramps up during the holidays, but its a year-round threat.

Its also the reason that Nicole Ochotorena, known by the nickname Mama Bear, became a ride-share app driver and an icon on the University of Arizona campus.

Ochotorena is beloved by students, and is known for giving people everything from rides, to medicine, to home-cooked meals.

The Mama Bear monicker came, she says, after her very first Uber ride about six years ago.

I picked her up from a frat party, Ochotorena recalled. She was highly intoxicated. I carried her to her bed. I had taken care of her for four and a half hours

She explains that she didnt leave until more sober friends arrived. Her care that night earned her the Mama Bear name, which stuck.

Everybody knows Mama Bear on campus, said UArizona junior Naiilah Lockhart. She protects everybody. Shes loved by everybody. Doesnt matter who you are, what you do, when you get in her car, she will make you feel safe and loved.

Ochotorenas positive, energetic energy is obvious as soon as you climb into her car. The hood is covered by a giant UArizona Block A. Multicolored party lights bounce around the inside of the car. The ceiling is filled with pictures, IDs, dollar bills and other mementos signed by current and former students.

In the trunk, theres a first aid kit, blankets, water and even Narcan. Ochotorena keeps whatever a passenger might need in an emergency.

These kids have me wrapped around their fingers. They really do, she said.

I do this 12 hours a day, every day. From 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Thats led to more than 25,000 rides between Uber and Lyft.

Ochotorena knows what can happen if someone doesnt have a safe way to get home.

My brother was hit by a drunk driver on Oracle and Magee when he was nine, she said. Her brother survived, but the crash left him physically and mentally disabled. She also described being in a violent car accident when she was a child.

So thats why I do this, she said. And thats why I firmly believe in this. Like, without a doubt I dont wanna see them ever get hurt behind the wheel because theyre drinking and driving.

But Mama Bear is not just a maternal figure behind the wheel. She even hosts and cooks for some students during holiday breaks.

Like, I dont feel any different from these kids than my own kids. And my kids are pretty much jealous of these kids.

Ochotorena has six kids and two grandkids of her own. But she also calls all of the UArizona students her kids.

This fall, Ochotorena says, was her first bad experience as a driver. She details how after picking up a woman on the other side of Tucson, the womans husband assaulted her.

Thats just one bad seed out of everyone whos good, she said.

With LOVE displayed on her dashboard, elsewhere in her car and even on her earrings, its clearly something Mama Bear wears on her sleeve.

Having room for love is what Im all about.