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Designated driver companies in Durham say new municipal rules will kill industry

WATCH ABOVE: Designated driver services say municipal rules will kill their business. They say although it is just Oshawa putting the brakes on them today, it could be more cities tomorrow. Christina Stevens reports.

TORONTO — As the owner of a designated driver service, DD4U, Sharon Carswell is proud of what she does, calling it a “win win” while driving through Oshawa.

But now she is worried new bylaws being implemented by the City of Oshawa will put the brakes on the industry.

If you’ve had a little too much to drink, at a holiday party for example, a contracted driver will pick you up and drive you home in your own car, with a chase car that follows and goes on to the next call.

The idea is to prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel, let alone making it as far as a RIDE stop.

“It cuts down on fatalities in the road and is a really rewarding service,” said Carswell.

Her company covers all of Durham Region, but now she believes Oshawa is on the verge of driving them out of the city with costly new bylaws.

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Oshawa has created a list of requirements for designated drivers, which includes a criminal record check and a health certificate as prescribed by the city.

Additionally, they will have to pay a $150 licensing fee every two years.

“You need to know that the person using the service is safe,” said Oshawa Mayor John Henry.

But Carswell, who was speaking on behalf of several designated driver brokers in the region, said their drivers already provide them with most of the same paperwork but because they are part time, the fee could eat up any potential profit.

The mayor said he isn’t convinced.

“If they find it onerous, it is always up to the designated driver service what they charge and increase the service costs to the public that’s not going to stop people from using the service,” said Henry.

But Oshawa also wants extra insurance, which Carswell said will cost about $7,500 a year per driver.

She insisted Oshawa is ignoring the fact that they’ve been advised by the insurance industry that because they are driving the client’s car, they don’t require commercial insurance.

The prohibitive expense will absolutely put the brakes on the service in that city, according to Carswell.

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“There are 10 companies, pretty strong companies, out there that are not going to service Oshawa,” she said, adding there is still time to work it out before the new bylaws go into effect June 1.

“[If not], they are going to crush this industry if they keep pushing this through.”