Wisconsin is known for brewing old-fashion, home-made golden beer. The residents are also known for loving and drinking these golden temptations. After an evening of good times and good brew, the last thing a person should do is drink and drive. To ensure that beer-loving residents can have their drink and safe ride home, too, the Tavern League of Wisconsin (TLW) established the “SafeRide” Home Program (“SafeRide”).
Designed to eliminate drunken driving arrests and lower the amount of OWI’s ( operating while intoxicated), the ultimate goal of “SafeRide” is to make Wisconsin a safer state – both for drinkers and those affected by their actions. In 1999, Wisconsin Act 109 was established to provide an overview of the activity occurring in the taverns, and to decrease the number of death, accidents and arrests resulting from driving under the influence of alcohol. It also created the $5.00 surcharge for OWI arrests, which are issued every time an OWI is convicted. In 2008, the surcharge was raised from $5.00 to $14.24. This program was put into action by the Tavern League of Wisconsin and is overseen by the Department of Transportation in Wisconsin.
Charitable donations and the surcharges from OWI arrests keep “SafeRide” going. Tavern owners that participate in “SafeRide” can receive up to $10,000 in grant money. This grant money is put in an account for the tavern. For every ride that is given, the taverns are required to record the amount charged for the ride. At the end of the month, the total costs for the rides are totaled. TLW then reimburses the tavern for the rides from its designed account. Once the funds in the account have been used, the taverns are asked to raise money for the funds that go towards the “SafeRide.” Once the tavern has raised the money and uses it for the program, the tavern can reapply for the grant. A 50% matching fund is applied towards the program. What this means is, TLW will provided the grant available for the tavern, then it’s the taverns responsibility to raise the funds to keep it going.
To apply, tavern owners can simply send a letter of request for funds and follow the step-by-step procedures found on TLW’s website. After they receive approval, bartenders must complete vouchers for every ride that’s given, and keep them on file. The taverns are required to keep record of the number of rides given as well the number of people that received rides. The addresses of the bars and drop-off locations must be documented as well.
Currently, taverns located in 46 out of 72 counties, including Oshkosh and Baraboo, have established “SafeRide” Home Programs. The program is continually expanding. As recently as May 26, 2008, Ballyhoos Brew and Chew in Lincoln County started a tavern taxi service for patrons who are too intoxicated to drive home.
The Tavern League of Wisconsin deserves to be recognized for all their time, effort and hospitality in helping to make Wisconsin a safer state. Established in 1935, this 5,000 member non-profit trade association has been committed to reducing the number of drunk driving accidents, injuries and deaths by helping citizens become responsible drinkers. Pete Madland, the Executive Director of TLW proudly shared that the biggest accomplishment of the organization is “making public that positive things CAN come from taverns.” Not only does their passion drive them to make Wisconsin a safer state, it also drives them to help other organizations in their state. TLW has donated five million dollars to over 5,000 charities in Wisconsin in 2008 alone. In 2007, they donated six million dollar to WI charities.
To learn more about the Tavern League of Wisconsin’s passion for keeping Wisconsin safe, visit their website at http://www.tlw.org/
I would like to thank Pete Madland, Executive Director of the Tavern League of Wisconsin and Mike Fick from Ballyhoo’s Brew and Chew for the time they’ve taken out of their busy schedules to answer my questions.