My name is Darren Burrowes and Responsible Choice is my baby! Before I had thought of a name or developed a business plan, it all started with a dinner party in 2003 at a family friends. A good time was had and the wine was flowing.
As the night began to wind down and plans on where to leave their cars and calling cabs started, a guest from Montreal mentioned that if they were in Montreal, they could just call a service that would send a couple drivers to drive their cars home. But we didn’t have that here in Ottawa.
It was suggested that I should consider starting a service like that here. I like cars, was good with people and while I love having a good time I have never personally been interested in drinking. They said they would use me and tell all their clients about it. Saying how great the concept was, because anytime they had ever risked it, it was because they needed their cars the next day.
Well that night, with the help of a couple of friends, I drove 2 guests home in their Lexus and Land Rover for a little cash. I couldn’t get the experience out of my head. I mean I love to drive and I love cars. I probably would have driven them for free just to drive their cars. But could this be a business?
I looked up the the handful of similar services across North America and did a little research. I thought about just printing business cards and handing them out, but decided it was too risky an endeavor. In the end, while tempted, I decided that at the age of 19, starting a designated driver service that had never existed in Ottawa before was something that would just stay on the back burner.
Fast forward a month, a friend was in a serious accident. He was hit by a drunk driver. Lots of damage, scrapes and bruises, but luckily everyone survived. It was a close call that almost took his life. When asked why he drove drunk the driver exclaimed, “I had to get my van home tonight or my wife would of killed me, we have hockey practice for the kids in the morning and I thought I was okay.”
I later discovered that this was an all to common scenario. That same night my little brother had just taken our family minivan out for the first time with his new license. The thought of losing a friend or family member to a tragedy because no solution to getting you and your car home existed weighed on me and I decided to change that. 9 months later, in 2004, Responsible Choice was born.
15+ years later, after tens of thousands of drives home and countless lives saved, we now do a lot more, but my goal is still the same. To reduce the instances of drinking and driving in the Ottawa region by providing a safe alternative to get you and your car home. My philosophy will always be that being responsible shouldn’t mean having to sacrifice having a good time.