Guy offers free rides for drunk people and gets arrested for it

(Am I allowed to use the phrase “Good Samaritan”? Ahh, fuck it. I’ll use it. It’s not like the source is original anyway.)

So there’s this guy from Quincy, Illinois named Jonathon Schoenakase. His friend died a while ago in a drunk driving accident, and he vowed to do something about it. So what this Good Samaritan did was start up a courtesy driving service that offered free rides home to bar patrons if they’ve had too much to drink, to prevent drunk driving. His service is primarily funded by individual donations and Jonathon himself.

Sounds like a stand-up chap to me. He’s identified a problem and come up with a solution. So what problem could anyone possibly have with him?

Schoenakase began operating Courtesy Rides on January 31, 2008 following a decision to do something about drunk driving after one of his friends was killed by a drunk driver. The service offers free rides to anyone who’s been out drinking and needs a ride home, donations are accepted, but it’s free to all. It was such a success Jonathan added a second car to the effort in 2009, then a bus, and that’s when Diamond Cab service took notice.

They complained to the city that Schoenakase was operating a de facto taxi service without a proper license, but in reality they were mad he was cutting into their profits by offering for free what the Diamond was charging for. Amusingly, he was probably hitting a different demographic, cheapskates who don’t want to pay for taxis but want to get home so they drink and drive, but that’s beside the point. The cab company complained loud enough that the Quincy City Council changed its taxi and limousine ordinance to remove the words “for hire” from its definitions and thus eliminate the loophole Schoenakase was operating under. Following the change, Jonathan applied for a license and the Chief of Police was supposedly about to approve it, but withdrew and said Schoenakase needed to clear up some legal issues.

Since then Schoenakase has continued operating Courtesy Rides and has been arrested twice now during sting operations, once in February and then again just last Saturday.

See, normally, when a business charges money for a service and then someone finds a way to offer that same service for free, that business is pretty much up you-know-what creek. Unless of course you live in America, where the government is always willing to step in and mess with simple free-market principles.

Here’s this poor guy who’s sacrificed his night life to reducing drunk driving by providing a safe way for drinkers to get home, which he’s doing to honor his dead friend, and the local government decides to act in the best interest of the taxi company. Damn shame. But that’s what happens when you give the government the power to interfere in the free-market.

This is such a dick move by the city officials. Just give the guy his $10 license already.

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