Jonathon Schoenakase of Quincy, Illinois was arrested last Saturday outside a local bar. His crime? Operating "Courtesy Rides" — a service offering free rides to bar-goers to prevent drunk driving. The reason? Taxi companies lobbied to make it illegal.
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.
We understand the police are just following the law, but this entire situation stinks like a three-days-worn t-shirt off a drunk's back. A guy goes out of his way to reduce drunk driving in his town, an effort he's doing to honor his dead friend, and the city shuts him down at the behest of a taxi company. Real nice work there. If nothing else how about just give the guy his $10 license and be done with all this pointless nonsense. [Sources: Quincy News, Connect TriStates, WHIG]