(LOS ANGELES, Dec. 29, 2009) — To help reduce DUI statistics by keeping drinking drivers off the road, the Automobile Club of Southern California is offering its free Tipsy Tow service during the New Year’s holiday. The service is available at 6 p.m. Thursday, New Year’s Eve, through 11:59 p.m. Friday, Jan. 1, 2010. 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 (4222) for a free tow home up to seven miles. Callers simply tell the Auto Club operators, “I need a Tipsy Tow,” to receive the ride home for themselves and their vehicle. A regular Auto Club-contracted roadside service truck will be dispatched.
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.
“Although DUI fatalities in California have dropped somewhat since peaking in 2005, we’re still losing more than 1,000 people each year to DUI – 1,029 died in 2008,” said the Auto Club’s traffic safety researcher Steven Bloch, Ph.D. “Motorists should be aware of the high crash risk from drinking and driving associated with holidays and not get behind the wheel if they’ve been drinking,” said Bloch. “Tipsy Tow ensures that drivers can keep themselves and others out of harm’s way,” he added.
“It takes only one or two drinks to slow steering, braking judgment and reaction time,” Bloch said. “Drivers should be aware that the CHP and law enforcement agencies use extra patrols and check points to look for alcohol-impaired drivers during the holiday season.”
People convicted of driving under the influence can lose many important things in their lives – their family, job, dignity and money. A first time DUI conviction is a lot more expensive than most people realize. The Auto Club estimates that an arrest like that can cost $13,500 or more in fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees and increased insurance costs.
The Auto Club provides the Tipsy Tow service as part of its “You Drink. You Drive. You Lose.” campaign and also supports several other sober driver programs. The Auto Club advises that motorists can avoid DUI arrests or worse 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’ve been drinking.
- Keep a cab company telephone number in your wallet so you can call for a ride home.
- As party host, try to be aware of whether some guests are drinking too much. Offer non-alcoholic drinks and plenty of food. Provide a gift to guests who volunteer to be designated drivers.
- Take car keys away from friends and relatives who have had too much to drink.