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Minnesota sober drive business takes you and your car home

April 7, 2018

In this March 29, 2018, photo, Kevin Webster of Night Owl Sober Driving Service stands near his vehicle in downtown Mankato, Minn. Webster and his partner Ryan Hood drive people home in their vehicle when they've had too much to drink. (Pat Christman/The Free Press via AP)

MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — Ryan Hood got the idea for Night Owl Sober Driving Service when driving a buddy home after he had too much to drink at a bar.

“He was saying he wished he’d gotten his car home, too.”

The Mankato Free Press reports that Night Owl, which opened recently in Mankato, does just that. Hood and partner Kevin Webster run the business.

“Unlike a taxi, if someone gives us a call, we’ll meet them and one of us will drive their vehicle with them in it,” Hood said.

For a drive home in Mankato or North Mankato, the fee is $20. Hood said people being driven home just have to sign a form that verifies their vehicle is street legal and insured.

“And no one can ride in our vehicle, we’re not licensed for that.”

He said that unless they’re on another call at the time, they can usually get to the person in about 10 minutes from the time they call.

Nik Proehl, who with his wife Angi own Midtown Tavern in Old Town, is a big fan of the new service.

“It’s about as safe as you can get. To have someone drive you and your car home and have someone following along behind is great.”

Proehl said he even tried the service one night to see how it worked and was pleased with it. “You can get Lyft or Uber, but that doesn’t get your car home.”

He said he occasionally pushes patrons to get a ride home if it looks like they’ve had too much to drink.

“There’s definitely times I say, ‘Here’s the number. Would you like me to dial the number for you?’”

Hood said they’ve had a few customers who live outside of Mankato and North Mankato. “In the St. Clair, Nicollet, St. Peter area we’ve been charging about $40.”

They have a Facebook page and have handed out flyers for their business to bartenders to get the word out about the new service.

“We haven’t advertised yet, but we’ve had customers. They seem appreciative. It’s about not just getting them home but their vehicle. It’s less hassle for them. They don’t want the hassle of leaving their car and having to get it the next day.”

He said some of the customers they’ve had definitely shouldn’t have been behind the wheel.

“Some were pretty intoxicated,” he said.

Hood said there are some similar services in the Twin Cities but he’s not aware of any in this region.

And, they found, the service isn’t just useful for those who’ve had too much to drink.

“We got a call from one who got pulled over and didn’t have a license and her option was to get her car towed. But she had our number and called and the police were willing to wait while we came and picked her and her car up.”

Night Owl operates from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily.

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Information from: The Free Press, http://www.mankatofreepress.com

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