After Jonathon Schoenakase’s friend was killed by a drunk driver, he decided to do something about the boozers on the road in his hometown of Quincy, Illinois. In 2008 he launched a service called Courtesy Rides, which offers lifts home to bar-goers and other revelers, free of charge.
It turned out that Quincy was well stocked with semi-responsible drunks, and “business” boomed. Schoenakase added another car to the service and eventually a bus, funding his efforts with donations.
He was doing so well giving away free rides that the local taxi companies started to get nervous, despite the fact that Schoenakase caters to a very specific clientele. (Taxis in Quincy aren’t allowed to operate after midnight, while bars close at 2 a.m. and clubs at 4 a.m.) The cab companies successfully lobbied the city to remove the words “for hire” from its taxi and limo rules, thus requiring Schoenakase to obtain a license, which the city’s police chief refused to issue, citing an outstanding charge of leaving the scene of an accident which is set for trial in October. The Good Samaritan has since been arrested twice in sting operations inspired by complaints from “licensed operators.”