A Tavern League of Wisconsin leader says a program that get's ample use during New Year's celebrations is something they take pride in.
The SafeRide Home program provides free rides home from Tavern League member establishments year round. All a patron has to do if they feel impaired is to ask the bartender for a ride home.
Tavern League Executive Director Pete Madland says the program began in 1999 when Governor Tommy Thompson signed a bill into law. It provided a funding mechanism to provide the free service...
"...We have 64 counties participating in the SafeRide program. Last year we gave over 93,000 rides home. There's no program like that in the country. It's successful, something our members take a great deal of pride in...."
Forest and Florence counties are not participating in the program. Madland says no tax money is involved in the program...
"..Money is brought in two ways. There's a surcharge on all DUI convictions. So offenders pay a surcharge that goes into a Safe Ride fund. Our members also raise money. There's an 80-20 match. 80 percent of the money comes through a DUI surcharge and 20 percent of the monies are from the efforts of local members...."
Madland says the goal of SafeRide is to eliminate drunk driving on Wisconsin’s roadways. The program is dependent on whether the establishment is a member of the Tavern League and the program. In 2017, the last year for which data are available, there were more than 23,700 arrests for operating while intoxicated in Wisconsin.