The best OWI defense is to never have gotten behind the wheel in the first place. And the safest way to get home from a bar, if you’ve been drinking, is getting a ride from a cab or a friend.

Sometimes that’s not obvious in the moment, of course. Sometimes you don’t have a friend available. And given the cost of cab fares, sometimes it’s not affordable – especially at the end of the night when you realize you’re out of money and miles away from home. This results in many people driving home who shouldn’t be getting behind the wheel in the first place.

This is why the Tavern League of Wisconsin has a program called “SafeRide”. The idea is that participating members offer a way for their patrons to get home safely, whether or not they can afford a taxi.

The concept is simple. You tell your bartender that you need a ride home, and if they’re a Tavern League member that offers SafeRide they arrange it at no cost to you.

You’re probably wondering how this is all paid for. The Tavern League of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin DOT have partnered together for this program, and it’s funded by donations and surcharges on Wisconsin OWI convictions. In other words, you can either get a SafeRide home, or you can risk an OWI conviction where you’ll be paying for others’ SafeRides!

Since the Tavern League started the SafeRide program over 30 years ago, drunk driving fatalities have dropped considerably. In fact, in the past 17 years they’re down almost 50% thanks in part to the SafeRide program. In fact, just last year, Tavern League members provided more than 91,000 SafeRides to their patrons.

The Tavern League maintains a searchable online list of SafeRide providers, but if you’re somewhere and you realize that you’ve had one too many drinks it never, never, never hurts to ask your bartender if they participate in the program.

To find establishments that participate in SafeRide, go here. And if you have other questions, you can call the Tavern League of Wisconsin office in Madison 800-445-9221.

As always, I encourage you to drink responsibly. But if you feel like you’ve had too much to drink, ask your bartender if their establishment is a Tavern League member offering the SafeRide program. It never hurts to ask, and it may save you (or somebody else’s) life!

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