A way home for Vail Valley drinkers | VailDaily.com

A way home for Vail Valley drinkers

Dustin Racioppi
Vail CO Colorado
NWS Wingmen KA 01-31-09

AVON, Colorado ” The founders and employees of the newest chauffeur-type service in Vail, Colorado, have two motives. One is to earn some extra money to supplement their landscaping service. The other is less personal gain and more altruism.

“We’re trying to get rid of that saying, ‘You’re only a local when you get a DUI,'” said Tim Hosking, a face that may become, or already is, familiar around the bar scene.

Hosking is one of The Wingmen, an Avon, Colorado-based designated-driver service that will not only pick you up when you’ve had too much to drink but will take your car home, too ” all in one trip.

To lots of people, that convenience is priceless.

“That’s usually the problem for some people. They get out and they start drinking, and they’re like, ‘Geez, if I take a cab home, how am I going to get my car the next day?'” Avon Police Chief Brian Kozak said.

Those people are left with a couple of options: Call a cab, catch a bus or take a risk and drive their car home. But The Wingmen can be added to that list of options just about any time.

“We’re not trying to compete with the cabs. This is for the people who want their car home,” the service’s co-founder, Dave Lambert, said. “We’re trying to get those people who don’t want to pay for the cab in and the cab out; people who are smart enough to think, ‘I’ve got to get my car home,’ so they don’t make a mistake.”

Since The Wingmen started up during Thanksgiving break, the name has been slow to catch on. They’ve mailed out fliers and bought ad space in the newspaper, and they’ve been hoping word-of-mouth will bring in more business.

“We’re just trying to get people used to the service ” then it will get busy,” co-founder Dave Coe said.

With 11 employees and as many as three trucks ready for dispatch, The Wingmen are normally ready to give rides to just about anybody in the valley from Thursday to Saturday ” the busier times for alcohol to be flowing. But they’ll take appointments and will take people anywhere on the Interstate 70 corridor from Vail to Gypsum.

“If you’re drunk and you need to get your car home, we’ll find a way,” Coe said.

It’s not as if the service is price gouging, either, because of its convenience factor. There’s a minimum charge if the trip is less than four miles. They charge $6 a mile for the first five miles, and then it drops to $3 a mile for each mile after.

“By the time you’re over 10 miles, it’s about the same as a cab,” Hosking said.

Since Coe and Lambert run a successful landscaping business, Hollywood Services, it’s not as if they’re relying on rides or hoping to become the premier designated-driver service of Eagle County. The idea was born from looking at other major cities, like Grand Junction and Boulder, that have that type of service and trying to see how it works in the Vail area.

“Lots of people will only need it about once or twice a year. That one or two times a year, it’s well worth it,” Lambert said. “We kind of feel like we’re helping out.”

Staff Writer Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or dracioppi@vaildaily.com.

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