National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence - Orange County

Alternative Prevention

When you really need to get a ride

Here's a situation: You have driven somewhere and gotten drunk. You know you should not drive. You could take the bus or a cab. However, that leaves your car behind. You need your car in the morning. What to do? Risk it? NO WAY! In many cities across America, there are 'designated driver' services available.

These companies will actually get both you and your car home safely. The biggest challenge is knowing if they are available in your area.


Designated driver services generally work one of two ways. There are 'Team Lift' and 'Scooter' approaches.

Team Lift is where two people come to where you are in their vehicle. One drives you home in your car while the other follows in their car. They get you home and then both ride off together in their car.

The Scooter approach is where a person arrives on a special scooter that folds up and fits into a nice, compact carrying bag.  They will stow the scooter in your trunk and drive you home in your car.  They then unpack the scooter and ride off to their next client.

There are both commercial businesses and non-profit groups providing designated driver services. Commercial businesses typically offer other transportation services as well. They will frequently serve a single large metropolitan area and its immediate surroundings, if not that entire county. Most non-profits work directly with individual restaurant and bar owners in their local city or county. To use these services, you need to be in a participating bar or restaurant.

The non-profit designated driver services are usually cheaper and sometimes even free. You should tip them! Many of these services also operate only during limited weekend hours. In fact, some are available during Holidays only.

Another way designated driver services can work is by membership. Pay for your membership, and you can avail yourself of the service when needed. These companies, both commercial and non-profit, serve the general community. There are other, more or less private designated driver services available to specific institutional groups.

We always suggest that you make yourself aware of all your alternatives to driving under the influence. Find out if a Designated Driver service is available in your city and visit their website to make yourself familiar with the service they offer. Find out what it takes to get a ride, how much it will cost, and where and when the service is available. If a Designated Driver service is available to you, make sure that you know about it.

This list does not include limousines, standard taxis, or party buses. Always contact these companies BEFORE you need them to make sure you understand how your local service works!