In communities across the state, Safe Ride programs offer an easy way to get home for bar patrons who have had too much to drink.

State Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) says the initiative helps customers avoid becoming a drunk driving statistic, with nearly 54,000 people taking advantage of the program over the last two years. She says it’s of particular importance in rural areas, where no public transportation options exist.

Safe Ride programs are paid for through private fundraising, which is currently matched dollar-for-dollar by the Department of Transportation. Vinehout is sponsoring legislation that would increase the state’s share of the cost to 80-percent, which says would allow programs to expand the number of rides they can provide.

A surcharge on OWI convictions that was increased in drunk driving legislation approved last year generated more money for the programs. Wisconsin Tavern League Lobbyist Scott Stenger says this proposal is needed to make sure DOT can provide that additional funding, which he say is readily available.

The bill is before the Assembly Transportation Committee.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:11)


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