Designated Drivers denied - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

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Designated Drivers denied

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The Las Vegas Valley has a drunken driving problem. In fact, by late April, there had been nearly as many driving-under-the-influence arrests as there were in all of 2012.

With a statistic like that, it's hard to believe that a company aimed at getting people home after enjoying a night on the town is struggling to survive.

Headed by Billie Smith, Designated Drivers works to get those who've had a few too many safely to their destination. He keeps a Breathalyzer in his display at events where people are drinking, hoping to ward off any machismo claims of "I'm OK to drive."

The Nevada Speedway pays Smith, and some of his 60 drivers, to stand by at all of its major events. Despite that, Smith said business is slow in a town where drinking and driving is a growing problem.

"The biggest problem with drunk[en] drivers is they don't have the money," said Eric Grenell, one of the drivers. "They don't understand [that] if they get a DUI, they're going to be paying $6,000 instead of $60."

By April, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police had made 1,844 DUI arrests, compared to the 2,200 during all of last year.

Smith said that in addition to the Speedway, the Cannery, Rampart and a few bars contract with his company to get their customers home safe, but the gaming companies have no interest.

"We get zero support from the casino industry, and that's a sad state of affairs, considering we have a major local casino entity in this town," Smith said. "If we got the cooperation from casinos, there would be a lot less drunk[en] drivers on the road today."

Station Casinos, one of the larger gaming companies in the Valley, said it is ultimately the customer's decision on how they get home.

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