Entrepreneurs redefine ‘drunk driver’

David Blaker was fast asleep when the phone rang Thursday morning. He’d been up late the night before waiting for drunken customers to call.

David Blaker was fast asleep when the phone rang Thursday morning.

He’d been up late the night before waiting for drunken customers to call.

Blaker makes money off booze-addled folks.

But he’s not taking advantage of them.

He’s hoping to save their lives.

Three weeks ago, Blaker and partner Patrick Kures got a business licence for We Drive You Safe Yukon.

It’s a shuttle company that drives inebriated citizens home in their own vehicles.

“It’s basically a safety blanket,” said Blaker.

“They wake up in the morning. They’ve had a good night, and their car’s home safe.”

Before getting behind the wheel, We Drive You has the drunken car owner sign a waiver guaranteeing the vehicle is insured and is legally safe for the road.

“And we have a sober witness sign it, like a bouncer or bartender,” said Blaker.

In the past few weeks, We Drive You has already ferried more than 30 cars and their tipsy owners home.

And Blaker has heard some fun stories.

“Usually, I hear all about their night,” he said.

“And most customers are very polite and understanding and welcome the business.”

If a customer gets unruly or unsafe, We Drive You has the right to park the vehicle, terminate the contract and call the appropriate authorities, he said.

But so far, the most extreme thing Blaker has witnessed was a couple of guys who decided to use their car as a urinal on the way home.

Kures and Blaker are coworkers at the Home Hardware lumberyard, and met about four months ago.

They both wanted to make some extra cash and were trying to figure out a business plan.

Then one Saturday, at 2 a.m., Kures phoned Blaker.

“He was totally elated about figuring it out,” said Blaker.

“But I was really tired at the time and said, ‘It sounds good, give me a call tomorrow and tell me about it.’”

Kures got the idea for the vehicle shuttle service growing up in Vancouver, where a similar program is offered.

The guys wrote up a plan and headed down to bylaw to see what steps they needed take to get the ball rolling in Whitehorse.

It took them two months to figure it all out and write up a waiver.

“And we did it all ourselves,” said Blaker.

“The lawyers for bylaw checked it out first, to check the legalities and make sure we didn’t need a Class 4 licence and stuff and once it was all cleared, we got the green light.”

Kures and Blaker also paid a visit to every insurance company in town, to see if they would need special insurance, but found there was no precedence for their operation.

“We just need the vehicle we’re driving home to be insured,” said Blaker.

Although We Drive You is covered by the vehicle’s insurance, the business still hopes to obtain corporate insurance.

“We are very careful with the vehicles we’re driving,” he added.

When Blaker’s driving a client home, Kures follows him in the company’s 1990 Toyota Corolla, which is good on gas.

So good, in fact, Blaker thinks We Drive You is a little cheaper than taking a cab.

“I think people are choosing us because, for one, they don’t want to leave their vehicle downtown,” he said.

“And they’d have to call a cab in the morning or get a ride in the morning to pick up their vehicle anyway.”

In this weather, they also don’t want to risk having their vehicle frozen, said Blaker.

“And there’s been lots of people who’ve had their cars keyed or damaged, or windows smashed out because there’s an empty package of cigarettes inside.”

But there’s an even greater motive behind We Drive You.

Blaker was born and raised in the territory. “I grew up in a culture where a lot of people drink and drive,” he said.

“And I’ve had a lot of friends who’ve either been hurt in an accident or been killed.

“More people getting home safe means less people getting hurt.

“And it could be that one person gives us a call and chooses to get a ride home instead of driving home drunk and that could save a family or a couple lives,” he said.

We Drive You is available Wednesday through Saturday from 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. The number is 456-7982.

The service costs anywhere from $25 to $50, depending on distance.

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