Driver

PHOTO/JERI CHADWELL

Devin Kahl and partner Tristen Houston recently opened a business called Don’tDrive. It provides drivers to take intoxicated people and their vehicles home. The cost is a flat $25 for anything within five miles, and $1 for each additional mile. Learn more at dontdrive.life.

Is this your first business?

Yes, it’s the first one we’ve actually brought into fruition. Tristen and I have worked on other businesses together. Don’tDrive was really the one we saw that we could go out and do it ourselves without anyone’s help. We saw the ability to give people sober rides home in their own cars, and we just started doing it last October. We gave around 20 rides, and then, you know, we talked to a few lawyers, and they said, “Hey, you can’t really do that without a few things lined up.’ So the past seven months we’ve been lining those up to make sure we’re a fully legitimate company for our customers.

If you don’t mind my asking, how old are you and Tristen?

Yes, no, I’m 22 years old. And Tristen is 21.

I wonder, what does it look like when it scales? It’s not going to be on the scale of, like, a city’s Uber program?

You’re asking what our plan is to expand it to areas we’ve said we’re wanting to expand to? We actually really appreciate all of the bartenders, bar owners and bar managers we’ve been involved with. We’ve really seen that our ability to expand has everything to do with the community. A large corporation going into all of these different areas really isn’t feasible. So we’re looking toward a franchise-type of model, with people who are active members of the community. … When we do a franchise model, we hope that whoever’s bringing it to the area has the connections in the community.

So there are thoughts to branch out into other cities. I want know how large the program, the business, will get here locally. How many drivers will there be?

On a nightly basis? Right now we have 10 drivers. We have four in Carson City and then 10 in Reno, including Tristen and I. Realistically, we want at least 20 available drivers throughout the week—not saying there’s going to be 20 on one night.

What are the liability issues for a business like this?

That was probably the biggest headache for us and also, I guess, deterrent. Everyone we talked to was talking to us about the legality of it, the liability of it, the insane insurance policy behind our company. But we talked to the attorneys that work directly with the Nevada Transportation Authority, and they told us there wasn’t any necessary insurance policy due to the nature of our business. Uber and Lyft and taxis have to have an insane insurance policy. … We, since we’re doing it on a consensual basis, and we’re not driving anyone in our own cars—that is the huge difference in actual liability. We’re getting consent to drive their cars, which is like you telling a friend to drive your car. So there is no insurance policy that needs to be covered in that, because the NTA doesn’t regulate that type of thing.

I seem to recall it used to be an ordeal to even rent a car if you were under 25, but you could drive someone else’s with their permission. This seems similar.

It’s the same type of law. But it’s our duty as business owners to cover you. You’re our client [or] an employee. So we worked on our own custom insurance policy with Aflac. And one of our attorneys right now is working on that. That just will cover the premiums. If any accident happens, we cover the premiums and the deductibles. We also cover any injuries. … We covered our bases.