Since founding Rides Under the Influence in 2011, Jeneen Phillips said her free designated drivers service has helped save hundreds of lives.
“We’ve taken home 1,286 people and one dog,” Phillips said. “Somebody had their dog with them so we took him as well!”
Phillips said she expects her volunteers will be busy New Year’s Eve responding to calls coming into the RUI hotline, 210-990-0200.
Phillips said when people learn there is no charge they often ask, “What’s the catch?” She said she tells them, “Don’t hit me. Don’t hurt somebody. Don’t go to jail.”
Two-person teams pick up callers at public venues, but not private parties. One person will drive the caller’s vehicle, the other will follow them home.
Phillips said RUI drivers are available from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and on high demand holidays like New Year’s.
Phillips said many more volunteers are needed because it is a year-round effort.
“In a city this big, if everyone came out and volunteered one night a year, we would be able to pick up twice the people,” Phillips said.
Phillips said volunteers undergo training and background checks before they are allowed to become designated drivers.
When asked why Phillips created RUI, she says drunk drivers already have taken a toll on her and her family in separate incidents mostly in California.
“I buried my four-year-old niece 21 years ago, so I do this for her,” Phillips said.
Phillips said she moved to Texas and Bexar County not realizing both have among the worst DWI rates in the country.
After arriving in San Antonio, Phillips was hit by a drunk driver.
Phillips said in total, she has had six encounters with drivers under the influence.
“I’ve had over 100 broken bones from my neck, my spine, my skull, you name it,” Phillips said.
Phillips said her wish for New Year’s Eve is that everyone gets home safely.
“That nobody dies. That people call us. We’re here,” Phillips said.