‘SafeRide’ offers free drive home from Wisconsin bars; safe ride options for NYE weekend

Published: Dec. 30, 2022 at 8:33 AM CST
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COTTAGE GROVE, Wis. (WMTV) - Wisconsin bar and restaurant owners are helping ensure everyone has a safe way to get home from the party this New Year.

The Tavern League of Wisconsin offers a free program at participating businesses called SafeRide.

Patrons that find themselves unable to drive after having too much to drink or without a sober ride home should ask their bartender if they offer the service, which provides free transportation to those who find themselves in a pinch.

Doubleday’s Sports Pub in Cottage Grove is one of more than 2,000 SafeRide providers in Wisconsin. Owner Debbie Stueber is the President of the Dane County Tavern League and coordinates the SafeRide program.

“The bartender would call a cab and then the cab company would come, and we have little vouchers that would be given out and filled out to the cab company. The cab company then turns them into me at the end of the month,” Stueber said as she explained the process of using SafeRide.

She added that SafeRide has provided more than 93,000 free rides across the state so far this year. According to the SafeRide online directory, there are 73 bars in Madison alone that offer the service.

There is also a SafeRide app where people can look up all participating businesses from their mobile device.

SafeRide posters hang in Doubleday's Sports Pub in Cottage Grove to remind patrons about the...
SafeRide posters hang in Doubleday's Sports Pub in Cottage Grove to remind patrons about the service.(Kylie Jacobs)

Stueber said it is vital to her as a Tavern League leader and business owner to make sure her customers can get home safely after a night of fun at the pub.

“People are people, but the big thing is they need to make the right choices,” said Stueber.

SafeRide has been around since 2004 and is funded by Tavern League members as well as surcharges on OWI convictions.

Another option for people who find themselves unable to drive after drinking is AAA’s Tow & Go program, which is available through Monday, January 2nd.

The Madison Police Department is increasing patrols in certain areas this weekend to ensure people remain safe while celebrating.

Department officials said they will position officers along State Street and throughout downtown Madison.

While intoxicated driving is always a concern, MPD typically sees an increase in alcohol-related crimes such as disturbances or arguments over the New Year’s weekend.

Officials with MPD issued a reminder that “buzzed driving is drunk driving” and that if you cannot find a sober ride, you can contact police for help.

They also remind partygoers that the best plan is to designate a sober driver ahead of time or try to schedule a pick-up with a taxi or ride-share service.

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