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For The Holidays, a Ride Home For Your Ride

The usual way for a driver to avoid eggnog-fuelled destruction during the holidays is for them to travel with a designated driver. This is a tried-and-true method of avoiding being the only perp at the station who smells alluringly of nutmeg. If, for whatever reason, it’s not a viable option for you (maybe all your friends like the ‘nog as much as you do?) Toronto-area entrepreneur John Long has a solution. It involves tow trucks.
Long’s proposition is fairly straightforward. Simply call his business, Downtown Towing, and he will send one of his many tow trucks (or the trucks of a subcontractor) to wherever you are. The tow truck driver will then take you and your car safely home. Your fellow party guests will be forced to acknowledge that you have partied so incredibly hard that reinforcements with heavy machinery needed to be called. You will be, in a word, victorious.
The service will launch to coincide with the first police-run impaired driving checkpoints of the holiday season.
Long began offering the service fifteen years ago, but discontinued it to concentrate on other work. His sense of duty was a factor in his decision to bring it back.
“I was going to many accidents,” he said during a phone interview, “and I went to many calls where people were drunk, or people were being charged…and I’m going: Jesus, Jesus, if they only had some kind of recourse, some kind of way to get home.”

Motorists who drink this December will have plenty to worry about, since this holiday season will be the first during which Ontario’s toughened drunk-driving penalties will be in force. Under the new legislation, effective last May, being pulled over with a blood alcohol level between 0.05 and 0.08 results in a three-day license suspension on a first offense; a seven-day suspension and mandatory driver education on a second offense; and a thirty-day suspension and mandatory treatment program on a third offense.
A tow from Long or any of his subcontractors will cost seventy-five dollars, plus three dollars for every kilometre travelled, meaning that, altruism aside, it’s likely to be quite a lucrative holiday sideline—though Long pointed out that parking and cabs are also extremely costly.
Similar services in the GTA—like the charmingly named Safe-T-Ride, or the Durham-based Keys To Us—rent actual, human designated drivers, who chauffeur impaired partygoers home in their own vehicles, for less than the cost of a tow. (Safe-T-Ride quotes thirty-five dollars for the first fifteen kilometres and five dollars for every 4 kilometres thereafter. They say the holiday season is extremely busy.)
Or, you know, you could just take the TTC.
Order a tow from Downtown Towing (and subcontractors) this holiday season by calling 416-GET-HOME (438-4663).
Photos by Christopher Drost/Torontoist


  • http://undefined falldowngoboom

    $75 plus $3/km is hella expensive. The only reason someone pays this is because they are stranded at the side of the road or their car was towed without them knowing about it. I can’t see anyone using a tow truck if they had a choice.
    Woud love to see something more reasonable. I know tow trucks are licensed, but can anyone get in on this action? Or does the city control the number licenses?

  • Steve Kupferman

    Long mentioned that when he was doing this initially, there were copycats. To my knowledge, any licensed tow truck operator can do it.
    But… Downtown Towing has a police contract, for the downtown area (awarded under shady circumstances, but not revoked), which makes them best able to promote a service like this.

  • http://undefined wesshepherd

    When are the legislators going to realize that the only way to really stop impaired driving and the related tragedies will be to have a zero-tolerance policy for blood alcohol. Zero–not 0.05, not 0.08—just don’t have a drink at all.

  • http://undefined Vincent Clement

    A zero BAC will not stop impaired driving any more than arbitrarily reducing the BAC to 0.05. The problem isn’t the occasional drinker. It is the habitual drinker and repeat offender.
    Raise the BAC back to 0.08 and have tougher sentences.
    As it stands, a person driving 50 km/h or more on a 400-series highway loses their licence and car for a week. Your first DUI? Lose your licence for three days. Yet you and I know that a drunk driver is a much larger threat than a person driving 150 km/h on a controlled-access highway.
    Anyone caught the first time should be required to install an interlock device on their vehicle since the have proven to be far more effective in reducing DUI fatalities than lowering the BAC.

  • http://undefined jlong1

    For your information all charges against me have been withdrawn based on the fact that I was wrongfully accused. I am trying to provide a service that will allow people who choose to drive to the bar,club,or party the option of getting their vehicle home safely without the chance of an impaired charge or even worse an accident that could take someone’s life. Also, our police contract is not for the downtown core but for 53,54, and 55 division. We are not limiting this service to our contracted area as we hope to help anybody in need. I would appreciate if you had your facts straight as your comments are a form of defamation of character.

  • http://undefined citygurl22

    I think that the rates are pretty decent given a dui will result in $1000′s in lawyer fees plus insurance companies wont want to provide any coverage or your rates will be jacked so high you cant afford to drive anyway. plus i think most people can relate to the fact that we all think we will only have one or two while we are out and sometimes thats not the case and we need a last minute option. Choosing who is the most sober is def note on of them!
    plus i read that newspaper article that Steve Kupferman posted and that seems like a lot of gosspip and jealousy from other companies! cant we all just got along this holiday season!

  • Steve Kupferman

    Thanks for the clarification.