Texas Designated Driver Service Keeps Drunks Off Roadways

September 5, 2006

Hoping to keep potential drunken drivers off the road, a new designated driver service is offering rides home for its customers and their cars.

PointZero8, which started giving rides in San Antonio last week, sends two drivers when people call for rides, one to drive the client in the client’s car and the other to follow in another car behind them.

“Right now, drinking and driving is a big thing,” said 31-year-old Marc Groleau, a computer video game consultant who started the service. “A lot of people are getting DWIs, and a lot of people are getting killed on the roads. I just thought the demand is there.”

Groleau, who said he used a similar service when he lived in Montreal, thought of starting PointZero8 when he looked around a bar and noticed lots of professionals who couldn’t afford to be convicted of driving while intoxicated.

Users of the service, which is named for the .08 blood alcohol percentage that is the legal limit for driving, pay annual membership fees and charges for each ride.

Annual memberships cost $60 for students, $150 for a couple and range up to $2,000 for corporate members.

For members, rides cost $25 for trips inside a 10-mile radius and $1.50 for each additional mile. Nonmembers can hire a driver for $35 for the first 10 miles and another $2 per mile after that.

Typical taxi rates in San Antonio are about $21 for a 10-mile cab ride between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Alex Cabrera, who bought a corporate membership for his two San Antonio clubs, said he has found that some inebriated patrons are reluctant to take taxis because they don’t want to abandon their cars.

“It’s an incentive for our patrons to use the service,” Cabrera said. “And, of course, to get our customers home safely and release some of the potential liability off our hands.”

Drunken drivers were involved in 1,224 deaths in Texas last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Amy George, the national communications manager for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said there are programs similar to PointZero8 in cities such as Los Angeles and New York. While MADD can’t endorse specific products, she said the services deserve support.

“MADD will always say the safest way home is to let the designated sober driver do the driving,” George said. “So, if that sober driver is a designated-driver service, that’s great. That makes sure everyone stays safe on the road.”

Penny Casillas, 34, is a charter member of PointZero8.

“I have no ties to a family or a boyfriend or anything like that,” she said. “So, when I do go out, I want to be able to call whenever I need a ride.”

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