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How to Implement a Community-Based Designated Driver Program

  Program Planning
  Program Marketing

Tips for Specific Groups


  Educators/College Groups
  Criminal Justice
  Medical and Health Care Community
  Hospitality Industry and Retailers
  Armed Forces

Publicity and Promotion
  Working with the Media
  Calendar of Year Round Ideas
  Media Q&A

  Partners and Resources

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The Aspen (Colorado) Tipsy Taxi program helps keep both locals and tourists safe from the devastation caused by drunk drivers by offering an alternative to impaired driving. Tipsy Taxi is a Safe Ride Program operated by the Pitkin County Sheriffs Office with the support of local government, businesses, the criminal justice system and local leaders. Bartenders and peace officers are authorized to distribute vouchers good for up to $75, ensuring that those who may have had too much to drink can get a free taxicab ride home.

The program enjoys enormous support, as shown by the donations and contributions from every segment of the community. Since no tax dollars are used to underwrite Tipsy Taxi, an innovative local judge decided to provide the program with a funding boost. In addition to other penalties, the judge sentences offenders to pay Tipsy Taxi anywhere from $35 to several hundred dollars, depending on the severity of the drunk driving offense. In fact, Tipsy Taxi's advertising was designed by a graphic artist who was caught driving impaired. He was sentenced by the judge to develop print PSAs as his community service project.

The program operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and during its 18-year existence has given more than 20,000 safe rides home. Through the years the program's budget has ranged from $7,000 to $60,000 per year. Deputy Ellen Anderson, who heads up Tipsy Taxi, stresses that all funds raised go directly to getting people safe rides home. She adds that all administrative costs are absorbed by the Pitkin County Sheriffs Office or from specially earmarked donations and contributions made by private citizens and local businesses alike.

Since the inception of Tipsy Taxi in 1983, deaths caused by drunk drivers have decreased.

A model partnership, Tipsy Taxi is administered by a volunteer advisory board including representatives from the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office, the Aspen Police Department, the Pitkin County attorney, emergency room physicians, local businesses, the local restaurant association, the local taxi
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company, the recovering community and citizens at large. Aspen's Tipsy Taxi has served as a model for similar programs throughout the United States and even Europe. For more information, contact Deputy(Retired) Ellen Anderson, Pitkin County Sheriff's Office, 970-923-5064, or visit the web site at


Impaired driving is an ongoing problem, and the most effective Designated Driver programs are available year round. There are, however, key points during the year where impaired driving seems to be at its worst: during the summer months and the winter holidays.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations (NHTSA) You Drink & Drive. You Lose. campaign stages two law enforcement mobilizations each year over the July 4th weekend and during the winter holidays to help raise the driving public's awareness of the devastating toll impaired driving exacts on families, neighborhoods and communities all across America. As you plan your Designated Driver program, consider staging high-profile events or activities during  these mobilization periods to support law enforcements efforts and save lives.

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