Designated Driver: a swag way to avoid DWIs

Friday, January 13, 2006

Anyone familiar with Cape Girardeau nightlife probably knows Tim Duffy's van, and everyone who drinks should know about his service.

"It's the cheapest insurance you'll ever buy," said Duffy.

The "insurance" Duffy offers with his Designated Driver shuttle can be measured in peace of mind, the assurance that a night out will be a safe night.

At any hour of the day or night, for the set price of $10, Duffy will pick up a group of up to three people in Cape Girardeau and drive them from home to a bar and from the bar back home or just about anywhere else in Cape Girardeau.

Additional passengers cost $2 each, a trip over the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge is $15 round-trip, and some destinations outside of Cape Girardeau cost extra.

Climbing into the plush interior of Duffy's van complete with track lighting, it's not hard to see why business is booming.

"I like to think I'm somewhere in between a cab and a limo," he said.

His customers seem to appreciate the service. "He's the finest man I know, always right on time," gushed Wayne, a customer and Hurricane Katrina survivor on his way to a bar across the river from his temporary home at the Drury Inn.

Another customer, Phro, was on his way home from the Rude Dog Pub. He called the service "the best transit in town."

Duffy's relationship with his customers is more than just business. He won't bring the van home until every name on his list is accounted for. "I'll call and wake you up in the middle of the night if I dropped you off somewhere and you don't call for a ride home," he said.

Duffy, a former attorney, said he got the idea for his business when he moved back home to Cape Girardeau after practicing criminal defense law in Seattle. "I got tired of it," he said, "you just end up holding peoples' hands while the justice system locks them away."

"I moved back home and I thought to myself it was either become a factory worker or come up with an idea to make money," he said. "So I was sitting at the bar and I saw this guy call for a cab at 11. Well, he was still sitting there waiting at 1:30 in the morning, and the bartender had to drive him home."

Duffy bought a van, posted fliers in bars, distributed over 12,000 cards and watched as the calls started rolling in. Eight weeks later, business is still good. He already had over 100 pre-reservations for New Year's Eve and averages about 80 pickups on a Saturday night.

Duffy now has two vans and employs five drivers.

Need a ride? Call Tim at 200-3388

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