By TOM JOYCE
Sure, everyone knows you’re not supposed to drive drunk. You could kill someone. You could get killed yourself.
But as former York police officer Todd Ross pointed out to the county commissioners Wednesday morning, another concern often overrides those realities when someone’s deciding whether or not to risk driving drunk. How will I get my car in the morning?
Ross said the York-based nonprofit he heads up, called DUI Keys Please of Pa., Inc., addresses that issue. Drivers who are on-call 24 hours will show up in pairs for anyone who calls an 800 number. They will then transport the caller and his or her vehicle back home.
“In their car,” Ross said. “That’s what we stress the most.”
Ross attended the commissioners’ meeting with a number of people there to lend him their official support, including a representative for state Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-West Manchester Township; Mothers Against Drunk Driving; and Wayne Harper, director of the York County Center for Traffic Safety. Ross said he wanted to publicize the existence of his nonprofit before the holiday weekend.
The York County commissioners passed a motion officially supporting the mission of DUI Keys Please to keep Pennsylvania roads clear of drunken drivers.
Ross said he started the organization around St. Patrick’s Day. Since then, it has transported between 120 and 125 potential drunken drivers and their vehicles home.
“That’s 120 to 125 potential lives we’ve saved, if not more,” Ross said.
The service charges the drivers $30 for the first 15 miles, and $2 for each additional mile, Ross said. In addition to calling the number, drivers can make arrangements online.
DUI Keys Please is a spinoff of a similar business in Minnesota called DWI Ride Home. Ross got involved because his brother-in-law is a partner in the Minnesota firm.
Harper said the county’s had similar programs in the past, offering taxi rides for people who are too drunk to drive. Those programs all ended eventually, after the taxi companies went out of business.
The key differences are that the taxi companies didn’t transport the drivers’ cars home, and that it was up to bartenders to call taxis on behalf of inebriated customers. Harper likes the fact that the customers themselves contact DUI Keys Please.
“We support any program that keeps those who are under the influence from getting behind the wheel,” Harper said. “One-hundred percent of DUI crashes are preventable.”
The number of fatal motor vehicle crashes in York County involving alcohol:
Source: York County Center for Traffic Safety.
DUI Keys Please of Pa., Inc.