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.