The Sober Guy brings drunk drivers homeby Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio
Statistics tell us that around Christmas and New Years Day, there's an increase in drunk driving related crashes. Two young entrepreneurs in Fargo have started a new business to help drunk drivers get home safely. The business, called Sober Guy, is generating interest around the country.
Moorhead, Minn. — It's a simple idea. Had too much to drink? Sober Guy will drive you and your car home.
Jason Casavan and his brother came up with the idea out of personal experience.
"We were out at restaurants, and you'd be having a beer or two with a meal, and then you find out they have $1 margaritas and you have one or two, and it's like, 'Things are going well and I'd like to hang out a little bit longer,'" says Casavan.
"But you've gotta work the next day, and it's tough when you have to call somebody in the morning to get you back to your vehicle," he continues. "And we just came up with a solution to that, where you can stay and have a couple extra drinks."
Casavan printed posters and business cards, rented a tiny office in a Fargo strip mall, and recruited some friends.
They hung posters in bars around town, and the next night the phone started ringing.
"I didn't really know what to expect," admits Casavan. "I new there would be a lot of people calling, but you don't know how many. The first weekend, we had five Friday night and six Saturday night, which wasn't bad for just putting out posters the night before. So I knew it had a heartbeat and then it just kept picking up."
A ride home costs $17.00 plus a tip for the driver.
Clients must have proof of insurance, and insurance industry officials recommend people check with their insurance company to make sure they're covered if a Sober Guy driver has an accident while driving their car.
Jason Casavan says his company is not considered a taxi operation because clients are driven home in their own cars. On a typical Friday or Saturday night, five drivers are kept busy shuttling cars and their owners home from Fargo-Moorhead bars.
Drivers work in teams. One drives the intoxicated person home in that person's own car. A second Sober Guy follows and picks up the first driver. Then they're off to the next call. With increasing demand, Jason Casavan expects to soon double the number of cars he puts on the street.
"We drive a wide variety of people home. It's not that everybody is completely drunk. It's people who've had three to five beers and they're at that limit, and it's just not worth it for them to take that risk," says Casavan.
Sober Guy drivers say many of their clients are professionals in their 30s and 40s.
Zach Delorme attends classes at the tech school in Moorhead and drives for Sober Guy several nights a week. With tips, he can earn up to $15 an hour. But he says the money isn't the most important thing to him.
"I was hit by a drunk driver in a head-on collision. It totaled my car. I walked away unscathed," says Delorme. "After that I turned over a new leaf about getting people off the streets with drunk driving."
Delorme says he's had a couple of people get sick on the way home, and there was the guy who couldn't remember where his car was. But he says most of the people who call Sober Guy are easy to deal with.
"All in all, it's just great. People are very open about their lives. It's like 'The Sober Guy confessional' when you get in the car. I've got some pretty good stories," says Delorme. "But that'll be for another day," he adds with a smile.
Zach Delorme is training to be a plumber, but he's hopeful Sober Guy will turn into a full-time job.
Company owner Jason Casavan says he's been getting calls from across the country from people who want to copy his business model.
He's developing a plan to offer franchises in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
- Morning Edition, 12/31/2007, 7:25 a.m.