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OSAGE, IA – It’s getting a little easier to keep people from getting behind the wheel after a night of drinking. It’s all part of the “Safe Ride” program in some parts of Mitchell County.
Bar owner, Rusty Michels is on a mission to make sure drinks and car keys don’t mix.
He said, “Why take the chance? It’s a no-brainer, I mean if you’re gonna drink, anything could happen.”
Armed with just a van and some volunteers, he’s making sure folks don’t drink and drive through his “Safe Ride” service.
Michels said, “We’ll take you home, we’ll take you from house to house, you don’t have to go to bars or restaurants. We’re just out there to keep the roads safe for people and save you from D.W.I if needed.”
Local addiction specialists say services like “Safe Ride” are perfect ways to prevent tragedies. And more often than not, bar patrons mis-judge how intoxicated they really are.
Prairie Ridge Addiction Specialist, Jay Peddlety said, “I literally feel fine when it’s time to drive, I put my hand in my pocket, there are the keys, I feel fine. The higher my tolerance is, the more difficult it is for me to tell when I’m impaired.”
On a busy night, Rusty will make from 25-30 runs taking people home, but he says he’d rather work those long hours than have someone drink and then get behind the wheel.
Michels said “When you’re in the alcohol business you gotta worry about how people are acting and how responsible they are and we’ll be responsible for them by getting them home.”
And fines are only one consequence of drunk driving.
Peddlety said, “Maybe I didn’t get an O.W.I. but my car is still crashed, I still got injured, I’m working up to building health problems.”
Rusty says he couldn’t have done it without time, donations, and community support.
“We just expanded to 2 more towns and got another van and so the public has really caught on to this and been helping us out.”
“Safe Ride” is expected to expand to other counties, but for now the goal is simple.
“It is what it is…be safe and don’t drive.”