Cobb business ensures a safe ride home
by Lindsay Field
lfield@mdjonline.com
February 01, 2013 12:28 AM | 3667 views | 8 8 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
From left, Designated Driver Alternative driver Jonathan Speights, director of operations and driver Kira Parsaud and company owner Bill Slagle stand with one of their vehicles, in front of sponsor location Wild Wing Cafe. ‘There are a million people who will take you home, but we saw the need for people getting their cars home,’ Slagle said. ‘The No. 1 excuse we heard from people was that they didn’t want to have to find a ride the next morning to get their car.’<bR>Staff/Emily Barnes
From left, Designated Driver Alternative driver Jonathan Speights, director of operations and driver Kira Parsaud and company owner Bill Slagle stand with one of their vehicles, in front of sponsor location Wild Wing Cafe. ‘There are a million people who will take you home, but we saw the need for people getting their cars home,’ Slagle said. ‘The No. 1 excuse we heard from people was that they didn’t want to have to find a ride the next morning to get their car.’
Staff/Emily Barnes
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MARIETTA — This month marks two years since Bill Slagle launched a business that can help save not only the lives of drunken drivers but also anyone who could possibly get in their way.

Slagle, 52, started Designated Driver Alternative off Roswell Road in Marietta in January 2010, while looking for ways to help raise money for his nonprofit charitable organization, the Atlanta Fundraising Foundation Inc.

The Marietta native has 18 two-driver teams that will pick up anyone who has either had too much to drink or just decides he or she doesn’t want to drive. One of the employees will drive the customer home in the customer’s car while the second follows behind.

“There are a million people who will take you home, but we saw the need for people getting their cars home,” Slagle said. “The No. 1 excuse we heard from people was that they didn’t want to have to find a ride the next morning to get their car.”

The company has customers in Cobb, Cherokee, Fulton, Gwinnett and DeKalb counties.

“We not only get a lot of the bar customers, but the bar staffs and owners,” he added.

Slagle does not claim to have been the brainchild for the concept. He brought it with him from a former employer.

That employer went up on its rates, from $10 to $15 per ride, after Slagle had worked there about a year.

He said his former employer, now his competitor, also charges $3 per mile compared to DDA’s $2 per mile.

“It’s a great idea, but we certainly didn’t come up with it,” he said. “We’re just trying to make it affordable.”

He said a majority of the costs, about 80 percent, go back to the drivers to pay for wear and tear on their personal cars. The other 20 percent goes to the organization.

For the past two years, which haven’t been the best economic times, his company has “gone way beyond my expectations.”

“It was just a good opportunity to go out and start this, and it’s gone amazingly well,” he said. “We’ve had a few incidences now Slagle said each of his drivers is required to be insured and have a good driving record. He recommends they carry an “umbrella policy,” but car owners are responsible for any collision damage.

Slagle also has sponsors at many area bars.

“They’ll pay us a fee to get a gold or platinum sponsor, and we’ll give them discounts on their advertising on the car or business card,” he said.

Customers can also get sponsorships where they pay an annual fee and all they pay for each ride is the mileage charge.

On a typical Friday or Saturday night, Slagle said they’ll have more than 100 rides and during the weekdays, between 25 and 50 each night.

One of Slagle’s sponsors is Wild Wing Café off Roswell Road in east Cobb.

Ryan Bing, the restaurant and bar’s general manager, said they sign up for a 12-month sponsorship.

“Obviously, with the awareness out there about drinking and driving, (DDA) makes sure people don’t do that,” he said. “It also helps maintain a customer’s and other people’s safety, plus it’s so inexpensive.”

Another business that uses Slagle’s services is A 2nd Chance Bail Bondsman in Marietta and Atlanta.

The owner, Daniel Matalon, said he personally uses DDA and recommends it to his clients.

“People often ask why I would want to keep people out of trouble, but our approach to the industry is a little different,” he said. “We’re trying to get out and help people. If (they get a DUI) one time, we want to let them know here’s another way to keep it from happening again.”

Matalon previously used Slagle’s competitor, but after meeting with him shortly after launching the driver services business, he changed providers.

“We hit it off from the start … I use him personally probably three days a week,” he said. “I’m a bail bondsman, and I can’t afford to get a DUI on my record.”

Coming from Miami, Matalon also said he thought it was “crazy” that businesses like Slagle’s weren’t in more cities.

“It just blows my mind,” he said. “It’s very useful … the biggest problem is that people drink alcohol, the happy sauce, and think they can drive anywhere. (DDA) is cheaper than a taxi, and you wake up with your car.”

DDA can be found online at dd-alt.com.
Comments
(8)
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DDA
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February 02, 2013
VFP,

I'm not sure what world you live in, but in the real world it is extremely rare that that someone in a public bar would get so drunk that they can't make a phone call or send a text, and even if they do, the bar staff will be happy to call for them. Without DDA, hundreds more impaired drivers would be on the roads each week, so I really fail to see your logic and how DDA could be a bad thing. Perhaps you are one of those people that is constantly finding good things and trying to find something negative about them. There is nothing negative about helping keep impaired drivers off our streets!
Davis Mac
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March 01, 2013
Well said
VFP42
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February 01, 2013
This service is definitely super helpful for any people who might have been bamboozled by the local fuzz with the "DUI less safe" roadblock scam at .06 or .04 or even .02.

The "less safe" charge was meant to be added on when somebody crashes and has been drinking but wasn't at .08 BAC. The charge is handed out very liberally to anybody at any roadblock at or above .02, though. .04? Tough! You "have the strong odor of alcohol and glassy eyes" and they have a "mandate" (not a "quota") of how many people to arrest. Read the book of tickets from a DUI roadblock sometime. One or two will tell the story of someone who was drunk. The rest will all say exactly the same thing: "the strong odor of alcohol and glassy eyes." That is cop-speak for "I have a mandate and this person can is going to help me with that."

The problem with this "we'll drive your car home for you" service is that you have to be able to make a good decision and call for a driver AFTER you have been drinking, which is exactly when people do not make good decisions.

The premise is that your whole alcohol event starts with a terrible decision to take your car drinking with you, and you supposedly make a good decision to call for help once you're drunk. That is an awful premise beacuse as always with a truly drunk person, they are unable to make a good decision about driving.

If somebody reaches a good and drunk Honest to God dangerous driving .12 or more, they won't be able to make the good decision to call for a driver.

Where does that leave the bar patrons who have this business card in their pockets? It leaves them on the road to DWI Hell paved with good intentions for calling for a driver later after they get obliterated, but then not actually doing so because they were drunk and no longer cared or perhaps were no longer able even to realize they were unsafe to drive.

IMO this service enables severely drunk drivers.

It's bad thing.

Go away.
Hsoul
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February 01, 2013
There is no way this is a bad thing if a person had gotten obliviously drunk, the establishment should take the responibilty in not letting their patron drive off drunk and I have had friends plan on using this service so either of them would not have to be the DD driver. And yes some people have gotten to drunk to make that decision but apparently they are if this service as well as others are still running!
anonymous
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February 01, 2013
I have to disagree extremely loudly with VFP on this one. This business is probably the most important business in the county. If it can take one drunk driver off the road, its mission is accomplished. I have heard people say, "I can't afford a cab." My response is "but you can afford a DUI?" VFP is saying "drunks make bad decisions, so just let them make bad decisions and don't do anything about it." No, no, no. If a bar owner offers to call this service, that is a good thing. One could say that a bar shouldn't serve someone enough to get wasted, but that isn't feasible. The person could be drinking before they got there. A bar owner can't monitor every parton. Thank God for this business and may it continue to grow and gain riders. Drunk driving is right up there with shooting people in my opinion. You can not only ruin your own life forever just by being out and drinking that extra glass of whatever, you can ruin other completely innocent people's life forever. If you drive drunk, you are operating a weapon, not a vehicle. I wish every person would just stay home if they must drink too much or leave the house with a designated driver. However, they don't, therefore, this business is a life saver. Who knows how many lives it has saved so far. Bless you!
VFP42
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February 01, 2013
If this service takes one drunk driver off the road, but three other people went drinking planning to call the service then got too drunk to call for a driver, this service is net 2 drunk drivers. How is that good?
Mathtician
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February 02, 2013
It is good because there was one less drunk driver on the road.
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