(LOS ANGELES, June 29, 2007) — The Automobile Club of Southern California is offering its free Tipsy Tow service to drinking drivers during the 4th of July holiday. The service is available from 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 3, until midnight Wednesday, July 4. Tipsy Tow is available in the 13 Southern California counties served by the Auto Club.Motorists, bartenders, restaurant managers, party hosts or passengers of a drinking driver may call 1-800-400-4AAA for a free tow home of up to seven miles. Callers simply tell the Auto Club operators, "I need a Tipsy Tow," to receive the free tow and ride home. A regular Auto Club-contracted emergency road service truck will be dispatched. Callers need to keep in mind that the service excludes rides for passengers, is restricted to a one-way, one-time ride for the driver and the destination is limited to the driver's residence. Reservations are not accepted. Drivers can expect to pay the rate charged by the tow truck contractor for rides farther than seven miles. "We want motorists to be aware of the high crash risk from drinking and driving associated with holidays and encourage them to think twice about getting behind the wheel if they have been drinking," Auto Club spokesperson Carol Thorp said. 4th of July is a traditional time for barbecues, family gatherings, parties, picnics and revelry, all activities that contribute a more relaxed atmosphere and more opportunities for drinking alcohol, according to Thorp. "It takes only one or two drinks to slow physical and mental skills and affect vision, steering, braking judgment and reaction time," Thorp said. "We hope drivers are aware that the CHP and law enforcement agencies are likely to be using extra patrols to look for drinking drivers during the holiday." While the number of Californians arrested for driving under the influence in 2005 (the latest year available) is only half of what it was 25 years ago, it's still disturbingly high — 182,414, according to Thorp. Statewide annual alcohol-related fatal and injury crashes have also decreased sharply, by 55% from 49,314 in 1981 to 22,316 in 2006. "We would like to see these numbers reduced even further, particularly the high numbers around the holidays," added Thorp. Drinking drivers frequently don't plan for other ways to get home because they are concerned about retrieving their vehicle. They cite the expense of taxis and time inconvenience as the major reasons they don't use alternate transportation, according to the Auto Club. Tipsy Tow provides motorists with a safe ride home for themselves and their vehicles instead of driving while intoxicated. People convicted of driving under the influence could lose many of the important things in their lives, such as family, job, dignity and money. The Auto Club estimates that a first time DUI conviction can cost $13,468 or more in fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees and increased insurance costs. Current laws, enforcement, public awareness, and education efforts by public service-oriented organizations, including the Auto Club, have contributed to the decline in the number of alcohol-related fatalities and injuries during the past 10 years. The Auto Club provides the Tipsy Tow service and free publications as part of its "You Drink. You Drive. You Lose." public awareness campaign. The Auto Club also supports many sober driver programs. This year the Auto Club supports RADD, a coalition which uses musicians, artists and sports figures to increase awareness of alcohol-related roadway deaths and injuries, and encourages safe roadways. The Auto Club advises that motorists can keep themselves and others safe and can avoid DUI arrests by keeping these safety tips in mind:
- At social events, designate non-drinking drivers who can get everyone home safely.
- Call a friend or family member for a ride home if you have been drinking.
- Keep a cab company telephone number in your wallet so you can call for a ride home.
- As a party host, offer a variety of non-alcoholic drink alternatives and provide a gift to guests who volunteer to be designated drivers.
- Take the car keys away from friends and relatives who have had too much to drink.