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WVU designated driver service offers safe way to party

By Charles Young

MORGANTOWN -- It's no secret that West Virginia University students like to go out and have a good time.

The student body's insatiable thirst and penchant for partying have made the school a mainstay on many "Top Party School" lists -- like the ones published by the Princeton Review and Playboy Magazine.

To help combat the dangerous side effects of WVU's drinking-centric culture -- like DUI charges, drunken driving-related automotive accidents and sexual assault -- a new local service is making sure students and residents of the Morgantown area have a safe, reliable way to get home at the end of the night.

Dub V Safe Ride, which was founded by WVU alumnus Eric Watkins in April, is a unique taxi service offering its users two different ways to stay off the roads when they've had a few too many.

Potential passengers can register for the service on the company's website, but becoming a member is not necessary to use the service. Members receive deals and discounts, according to the website.

Passengers can either schedule their pick-ups ahead of time or simply call the service about 20 minutes before they're ready to leave.

If the customer walked to wherever he or she became intoxicated, a driver in one of the company's three cars will pick up the customer and drive him or her to a designated destination.

If the customer drove his or her own car and is now legally incapable of driving it, a Dub V Safe Ride employee will arrive on one of the company's two miniature scooters. The scooters are foldable and can be collapsed to fit inside the customer's car, which will then be driven by the employee. After arriving at the passenger's home, the employee will hop back on the scooter and head off to the next location.

Dub V Safe Ride manager Grant Blaisdell, 23, of Keyser, said the service charges a $10 flat pick-up fee in the standard service area and then $3 a mile. At that rate, passengers can ask to be taken to anywhere in Morgantown or the surrounding area.

"Our slogan is, 'It's cheaper than a DUI,'" he said. "You know, it's cheaper than $10,000 for a DUI, or having your car towed for $200. You don't have to worry about it being downtown overnight and having to pay for parking. It has its advantages."

If passengers wish to be taken outside the immediate Morgantown area, like to Fairmont or Uniontown, Pa., all they have to do is schedule their pick-up online or let the driver know enough in advance.

"We try and take people wherever they need to go, really we'll go how ever far it takes," Blaisdell said. "I've even taken people as far as Pittsburgh before."

Although the company started out exclusively catering to students making their rounds at the local bars, it now includes shuttle and taxi services for weddings, tailgates and parties.

Megan Sheil, one of Dub V Safe Ride's designated drivers, said the company is looking to hire more employees to be able to offer rides on game days.

"We want to have shifts for football games," she said. "We want to be able to have enough employees to take people to and from the games and then still have a shift that night for people."

Blaisdell said the service is small but thriving and growing.

On an average night, he said the company has between 10 to 15 passengers.

"It's really a great alternative," he said. "We offer fast service with friendly faces, and you get your own car."

To learn more about Dub V Safe Ride or to become a member, visit or call 304-777-9996.


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