Service helps avoid DUIs after a night of drinking

December 17, 2010 8:20:23 PM PST
During the holidays, one drink can easily turn into two and before you know it, you may have had one too many and that can be deadly if you get into your car. On average, someone is killed by a drunk driver every 45 minutes. Now there's a Bay Area non-profit that wants to make sure you get home safely with your car.

Bartenders at Chris's New Harbor Bar in Belmont often have to worry about whether patrons have had too much to drink.

"I see lots of them, I can see some right now," bartender Stephanie MacDonald said.

The bigger problem is when those customers leave the bar and drive away. Fortunately there's a service that can get these patrons and their cars home safely.

"We provide safe courteous reliable means of transportation for people who are impaired - too tired or unable to drive for some reason," Lawrence Michelson from Sober Driver said.

Michelson knows what it's like to get a DUI -- he's had two. To prevent others from getting them, he started Sober Drivers.

"I essence it's a safe ride for you and your vehicle back home," he said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration drunk drivers are responsible for 30 percent of the traffic fatalities in the state. The agency says legal fees, towing costs, increased insurance premiums and bail make DUIs very expensive tickets.

The typical cost of a DUI is roughly $10,000 and that's why some people are choosing sober drivers to get home.

"Realistically it's easier for me. I don't have to worry about being pulled over, I don't have to worry about waking up in jail," Sober Driver user Justin ARMISTEAD

Sober Drivers costs $25 and then another $4 a mile to get you home.

"I get a couple calls a night - and it's been wonderful and people really appreciate and when your a sponsor of sober drivers - when your bar sponsors them, then you pay $15 dollars instead of $25," MacDonald said.

Two drivers will pick you up -- one drives you and your car home and the other follows. The drivers are paid a percentage of the fare, the rest goes to sober drivers.

"It's been a wonderful service for the community," MacDonald said.

Sober drivers currently operates in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, but hopes to expand to the rest of the Bay Area soon.

"I would like to be able to set up locations throughout all of California, possibly in a few years all over the United States," Michelson said.

Written and produced by Ken Miguel


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